Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens: A 51-year love story that transcended marriage and divorce
A calming sensation fills your mind as you listen to Merle Haggard's magical voice. It has been four years since the country music icon breathed his last on April 6, 2016 — his 79th birthday — but his songs continue to make the day a little merrier.
Paying tribute to Grammy winner, A&E is all set to air a documentary, titled 'Merle Haggard: Salute to a Country Legend', for the country singer, songwriter, guitarist and fiddler. With songs like 'Workin' Man Blues', 'Sing Me Back Home', 'I Think I'll Just Stay Here' and 'Silver Wings', Haggard continues to live in the hearts of music lovers. Not just his singing prowess, but his personal relationships were also much talked about.
Did you know Haggard married five times? The singer first walked the aisle with Leona Hobbs at the age of 19. From 1956 to 1964, they were together for eight years and had four children, Dana, Marty, Kelli and Noel.
Soon after he divorced Hobbs, he found love in the arms of singer Bonnie Owens and married her in the year 1965. Their relationship struck the chord with all of their fans and Haggard even credited her for helping him with his music career and shared the writing credit for his song, 'Today I Started Loving You Again'. While playing on stage, he also said the track chronicled a sudden burst of feelings for her while touring together. She was the headliner while Haggard was the up-and-comer as they crooned melodious hits.
Owens was one of his most trusted companions and she even cared for Haggard's kids from his first marriage. She was previously married to fellow country singer Buck Owens. A few years down the line, when Haggard was smitten by Leona Williams, he couldn't make up his mind between the two women. On stage, Haggard allegedly cracked a joke as to how he tried to avoid the song, 'I’ve Got a Darlin’ (for a Wife)' because his fans may get confused about who he was talking about. Owens realized his feelings for Williams and reportedly, stopped coming back home to him. The couple parted ways in the year 1978 after 13 years of being together.
Even when he married Williams, she stayed by his side and was the maid-of-honor. Their friendship continued to strive and the pair still sang many songs together, including 'Just Between the Two of Us', 'Slowly But Surely', 'Our Hearts Are Holding Hands', 'Stranger in My Arms' and 'That Makes Two Of Us'.
Even until his later years, she continued to be by his side. Haggard had two more marriages after Williams. In 1985, he got hitched to Debbie Parret and after they divorced in 1991, he finally married his fifth and last wife, Theresa Ann Lane, in 1993. The couple stayed together until the end and had two children, Jenessa and Ben.
The description for Haggard's tribute reads, “Captures the most iconic moments from a one-night-only concert event honoring Merle Haggard and his music on what would have been his 80th birthday. Packed with captivating live performances, never-before-seen interviews and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage with some of music’s biggest superstars.”
'Merle Haggard: Salute to a Country Legend', A&E’s tribute documentary to the country music icon, airs on Monday, April 13, at 11 pm ET.