Merle Haggard / Facebook
Better late then never!
Merle Haggard was incredibly accomplished, boasting a six-decade career as one of the top country musicians of our time. He’s a three-time Grammy winner and honorary Country Music Hall of Famer. The ‘Mama Tried‘ singer even has a doctorate from California State University, Bakersfield.
But this trophied country star never received one thing most of us often forget about — a high school diploma.
Merle attended Bakersfield High School for less than two weeks back in the late ’50s. Six decades later, despite having never passed a class, Bakersfield principal David Reese and a former classmate of Merle’s, Don Hemingway, suggested holding a private ceremony for the singer.
The event aptly took place in an alley outside the Fox Theater in Bakersfield Saturday, April 25, 2015.
“I’m glad the superintendent agreed to do this,” said a bemused Don. Later he jokes, “But it’s not like Merle needed this diploma to get a job or anything…“
Don was honored to hand his former classmate the graduation gift during the private, informal ceremony.
“But I was only there nine days,” he said in jest while receiving his diploma.
According to Rolling Stone, the country legend’s older sister “was registrar at the high school at the same time her brother was routinely truant, had arranged with a counselor to have the future country icon sent to Juvenile Hall to straighten him out.”
As you probably know, Haggard was in and out of prison for several years before finally straightening out and becoming a country music legend.
Congratulations to Merle – even though he didn’t need that diploma to get a job!