Merle Haggard and his siblings did not have an easy life, but their struggles ended up bringing them closer together. After Merle's father passed away while he was still a child, he relied more than ever on the support of his siblings, especially his big sister, Lillian.
Even after Merle made his big break as a country music singer, he maintained a close relationship with his sister, and would often call her in the middle of the night just to chat. Although Lillian is 16 years older than Merle, the two of them were able to connect over music and their shared childhood memories.
Since Merle passed away on April 6, Lillian has kept busy attending various tributes in his honor, and is currently planning a memorial service for him in his hometown of Bakersfield, California.
Following Merle's death, Lillian started thinking more and more about what he was like when he was younger. In an interview with The Bakersfield Californian, Lillian, who is now 95 years old, fondly reflected on their childhood together, and she had some funny stories to share.
"When he was seven years old, he got the mumps," she said. "He gave my mother and me the mumps and then laughed at us because we were so miserable. That went on for as long as it takes to get rid of the mumps. "
Merle and Lillian when they were young. Photo Credit: TBC News Video YouTube Channel
Besides being known for his mischievous nature and sense of humor, Lillian said that Merle was a creative child. When asked how old Merle was when she realized he had musical talent, Lillian revealed that he was only a baby:
"He was lying in his bassinet, and I don't recall if I walked by or my mother, but one of us noticed he was keeping time with his feet...the radio was on, so we looked at him, and we changed the station to something else more popular...no effect...we put it back on the Western music and the feet were right in tempo. And my mother looked at him and says 'he's got it.'"
Years later, the whole country music community agreed that Merle "had it," and he became one of the most successful and popular artists in the genre's entire history. Still, Merle never forgot where he came from, and remained close to Lillian until the day he died.
You can watch Lillian's full interview about what Merle was like as a child in the video below.
We'll continue to keep Lillian and the rest of Merle's family and loved ones in our prayers.
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