Merle Haggard is one hell of a country music legend. He is also one hell of an impressionist. Haggard presented his best Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, and Buck Owens impressions during an appearance on The Glen Campbell Show. He nailed everything. From facial expressions to singing styles, Haggard did it all.
It’s possible that you had no idea that Merle Haggard did impressions. When he started impersonating Cash, Owens, and Robbins, the country music singer and songwriter was spot on.
First, Haggard began playing Marty Robbins’ 1962 single “Devil Woman.” If you would’ve closed your eyes and just listened to the performance, you may have thought it was Robbins, to begin with. This song was Robbins’ seventh No. 1 single as it spent eight weeks on the top of the charts.
Second, the “Workin’ Man Blues” singer sang “Love’s Gonna Live Here” by Buck Owens and His Buckaroos – alongside Buck Owens himself. Released in 1964 on “Together Again – My Heart Skips A Beat,” Buck Owens walks out as Haggard is singing. He jumps in and sings harmonies on his own song and then exclaims, “Do Johnny.”
Haggard responds and says, “He’ll kill me.” He starts to sing “Jackson” and handles the guitar in the same way that Cash does. Then, Cash comes out on stage and jumps in the performance as well.
How amazing it had to have been to be in that crowd.
One commenter writes, “More pure talent on that stage than on the entire ACM Awards Show for at least the last ten years.”
Another writes, “I expected at least one of them to be a weak impersonation, but nope, they were all about spot on!”
Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard’s Friendship
Merle Haggard’s singing career was inspired by Johnny Cash. While serving a prison sentence at San Quentin State Prison at 20 years old, Haggard saw Cash perform. After getting released in 1960, Haggard got down to writing and released a slew of hits. The singer and songwriter got his life straightened out, thanks to his inspiration from the Man in Black.
Haggard spoke about his friendship with Cash, “We were always humorous with each other. I criticized him one time for something he did, and he answered me, ‘Haggard, you have the ugliest face in country music.’ We had that kind of sense of humor back then. But later I missed a couple of dates out in Oregon when I was 49 years old, and he and June called me and said, What’s the matter, Haggard, did you get ahold of some bad dope?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘What’s the matter?’ I said, ‘I’m 49 years old, Cash. I’m fixin’ to turn 50.’ He said, ‘Oh, my God. I wound up in rehab when I turned 50. I totally understand.’ He helped me every time he had a chance to help me, and I would have done the same for him.”