Merle Haggard's rise though the country ranks have taken him from Oakie to superstar to elder statesman.
The music icon will play the Gallo Center for the Arts April 4. The show will be the 70-year-old Bakersfield native's third stop in Modesto in five years.
Made legend by his monster '60s and '70s hits like "Okie from Muskogee," "The Fightin' Side of Me" and "Mama Tried," Haggard has racked up 40 No. 1 chart hits, 19 Academy of Country Music awards, seven Country Music Association wins (plus 43 nominations, the most of any artist) and two Grammys.
But his legacy is more than the awards won and the records sold.
With a past like the hard-scrambled songs he sings (including a stint in San Quentin for robbery in the 1950s), he first made a name for himself as the no-nonsense, no-peacenik patriot.
Since his days as a pro-Vietnam War icon, the music maverick has become an anti-Iraq War advocate. His 2003 release "Haggard: Like Never Before" included pointed anti-war lyrics.
Over the last few years, Haggard has experimented with his sound. He collaborated with Willie Nelson and Ray Price for "Last of the Breed," an album of country standards. In 2005 he released the studio album "Chicago Wind" which continued his anti-war stance with the song "America First."
Now Haggard, who lives near Lake Shasta, has put out "The Bluegrass Sessions," a bluegrass take — complete with fiddle, Dobro and banjo — on some of his greatest hits and new originals.
"I've had years to become a fan of bluegrass and never had done anything in that area," Haggard told the Associated Press. "I thought before I cash out I'd do one."