Oildale reacts to the death of Merle Haggard

Posted at 2:27 PM, Apr 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-06 22:02:37-04

Country music legend Merle Haggard inspired many throughout Kern County and across the nation, but his roots were in Oildale.

Residents said he embodied the American Dream, and inspired each of them in a different way through his music.

Carly Callas said his music was there for her when she was going through a difficult time in her life, "I ran because yeah no I'm stressed out, you know? I was a builder and a single mother and I ran to calm down."

She ran ten miles each morning at 5 a.m..

Oildale resident Daniel Prouty said he was excited when he moved here because he wanted to share the country music history with his children like his father did with him. "Country music, the industry lost a great singer and a great role model for younger generations," Prouty said.

Some locals told 23ABC stories of how their parents partied with Merle around Oildale at places like Blackboard and how inspiring his life was. "He started from nowhere, they had nothing when they began and they built you know, they earned it you know?" Martin Mitchell said.

Margaret Morin said Merle was her hero, and that she used to listen to his music growing up, "he was singing from his heart. You know a lot of the words from Bakersfield." Saying his life right here created some of his songs.

Many of the places the 'greats' like Merle and Buck Owens would go to and sing at are now gone. Trout's on North Chester in Oildale touts themselves as the last great honkytonk in Bakersfield. Local residents agree and say Merle's music will continue to live on.