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My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers: A Conversation with Merle Haggard, Norm Hamlet, Don Markham.

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Published on Jun 4, 2012

Bakersfield Sound pioneers Norm Hamlet, Don Markham, and Fuzzy Owen will discuss their longtime involvement in Bakersfield's music community and their decades of work with Merle Haggard. In the late 1940s, Charles "Fuzzy" Owen began playing steel guitar in Bakersfield clubs, which led to his original recording of "A Dear John Letter" (with Bonnie Owens) and a regular job on the TV show Cousin Herb's Trading Post. As a partner in Tally Records, Owen signed Haggard to his first recording contract. He produced and played steel on Haggard's early records, and became a permanent member of the singer's business organization. Pedal steel guitarist Hamlet recorded in the 1950s with the Farmer Boys and other Bakersfield-area acts before joining Haggard's band in 1967. Saxophonist and trumpeter Markham played in many of the house bands around Bakersfield in the 1950s and '60s, and had joined the Strangers by the early 1970s. Hamlet and Markham appear on a long list of Haggard classics and remain core members of the Strangers today. Still based in Bakersfield, Hamlet, Markham, and Owen will visit the museum for an interview before Haggard performs at Ryman Auditorium on April 11. The interview and concert happen the week of Haggard's seventy-fifth birthday (April 6), and shortly after the opening of the Museum's major exhibition The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country.

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