Inspired by photos of Willie Nelson’s bob hairstyle he found on the internet, country legend Merle Haggard debuted his own new look at two shows in Oregon over the weekend.
“It seems like people expect us old guys to settle into our ways and get a little lazy, creatively speaking,” said Haggard from his home near Lake Shasta, “but the truth is there’s no better time to take some chances. I’m established. I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve built up enough of a legacy that whatever I do from this point on won’t mess it up too much. If I feel like recording a mariachi song with Justin Bieber or growing an enormous afro, that’s exactly what I’ll do.”
Though some gasped audibly when Haggard took the stage at his weekend gigs, or laughed out loud in anticipation of him removing what they thought to be a wig, others in attendance thought the look suited the 73-year-old singer.
“He did have that song ‘White Man Singin’ the Blues,’ where the old black man calls Merle his soul brother,” pointed out amateur Haggard historian Joe Nunez after the show. “The hairstyle is just a reminder of Merle’s ability to cross boundaries with his music. I’d never considered it before, but in a weird way, it works.”
“With the hair and the way he slings that guitar, he looks just like Jimi Hendrix!” swooned Estelle Majors, a former Hendrix groupie and recent country convert who attended the show with a friend. “This was like Woodstock!”
Meanwhile, another concertgoer expressed some confusion at the pale singer’s kinky new hairdo: “I came as a fan of his music, not knowing much about his life or anything. I didn’t even realize Merle was Jewish.”
While fan reaction has been mixed, the new hairstyle is already reaping financial rewards.
Haggard is reportedly finalizing an endorsement deal with specialty hair care company Blended Beauty, as the celebrity face of their popular Happy Nappy Styles styling cream. If signed, the deal would represent the most significant afro-related country music endorsement deal since 1987, when Conway Twitty self-funded the recording of his Hair and Now album by hawking home perm kits in a series of television infomercials.
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