Very saddened to hear of the passing of Merle Haggard. This story from The Tennessean is a tribute to Merle's musicianship. The article is about Merle's son Ben who played guitar in Merle's road band.
Here's an excerpt:
But Merle Haggard didn't offer that advice to young Ben. Instead, he praised his still-developing skills but shot looks at him when Ben delivered a hot lick that impressed with flash rather than with melody.And here's part of an interview with Merle from Elmore Magazine. Merle talks about the musicians who influenced him:
"He says you should learn a song's melody all the way through," Ben says. "He says, 'Anything you can learn about a song, learn it.' He hates hearing somebody playing a thousand notes: He'd rather somebody play the melody, so the people can understand it."
Ben not only had to play melodies, he also had to replicate the highly advanced, signature guitar licks that greats Grady Martin, Roy Nichols and Reggie Young had played on classic Merle Haggard recordings.
EM: What musician influenced you most?
MH: Bob Wills. He influenced Grady Martin who influenced me on guitar, and then when I came back to fiddling he influenced me again. It’s just his touch on the fiddle, lifted by Grady and put on the guitar. Grady was my favorite guitar player so it kind of goes back to Wills. The musicians who have worked with me are certainly influential in my life, and it’s an array of great players like Grady Martin, Reggie Young, Chet Atkins, James Burton and the list goes on of great players. I try to pick up a little from everyone.