How Curb Records Killed Merle Haggard’s Commercial Career

How Curb Records Killed Merle Haggard’s Commercial Career

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“I’d like to publicly challenge him to a boxing match.”

–Merle Haggard on the owner of Curb Records, Mike Curb.

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It was 1985, and Merle Haggard released one of his last major country music hits. “Kern River” reached #10 on the country charts, but if it was up to Columbia Records executive Rick Blackburn, the song would have never even been recorded. Blackburn hated “Kern River,” and apparently went out of his way to tell Merle that at every opportunity until Merle had enough. Blackburn mouthed off to Merle about it one too many times, and Merle lost it.

“That’s about the third time you’ve told me that.”…



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