Yes. In 1958, at the age of 20, Merle Haggard was sent to San Quentin prison after being convicted for burglary and attempted escape from county jail.
While serving a 2 1/2-year term, he played in the prison's country band and took high school equivalency courses. He was paroled in 1960 and was officially pardoned in 1972 by then governor of California Ronald Reagan.
Upon his parole in 1960, Haggard went back to Bakersfield. He started playing lead guitar and gained a loyal local following in his hometown. In 1962, he went to Las Vegas to back singer Wynn Stewart. There he decided to make music his career and signed a small label called Tally Records, whom he recorded five songs, including his debut single "Sing a Sad Song," which rose to No. 19 on the country charts.
Sadly, Merle Haggard died on his birthday (April 6, 2016) in Palo Cedro, California, of pneumonia that he had been battling for months. His son said that the country music legend warned his family that his death would come on his 79th birthday. Find out more at New York Post.
Tip! View Merle Haggard's Fimlography on IMDb.