50th Anniversary Celebration Planned for Merle Haggard’s Okie From Muskogee
The Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism announced today that Muskogee will host a commemorative concert and other events to celebrate the 50th anniversary performance of Okie from Muskogee by Merle Haggard.
On October 10, 1969 Merle Haggard recorded the hit album, Okie From Muskogee – Live from Muskogee, Oklahoma inside the Muskogee Civic Center. The live recording emerged from the already hit song “Okie From Muskogee”, written by Haggard and songwriter/drummer Eddie Burris, which saw success at live performances even before its official release on September 25, 1969.
The commemorative concert featuring Ben Haggard and the Strangers, Merle’s son and original band, will be held Thursday, October 10, 2019 inside the original venue, the Muskogee Civic Center, 50 years to the day of that historic night. The event will also feature special guests including Oklahoma’s own, Ricochet.
“We are excited to announce this event that is fifty years in the making,” said Justin O’Neal, Interim Tourism Director for the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism. “This album is known as one of the greatest albums of all time featuring one of the greatest songs of all time,” added O’Neal.
The event in October 1969 was the last of a run of six shows that were all intended to be recorded and released as a live album titled “Six Nights on The Road”. Due to a shady equipment salesmen and technical difficulties none of the previous five shows were able to be recorded. In fact, even on the historical night the band was not sure if anything recorded as planned.
“We didn’t even have speakers to know if we were going onto the tape” Haggard recalled in a later interview for a commemorative release of the album years later. “Fuzzy [Owens] told me that night in Muskogee, he said ‘If you’ve got this on tape, I’m not sure whether we did or not, Hag, but if you did, it’s a million seller.’” The song reached No. 1 on Billboard Magazine Hot County Singles chart by November 15, 1969, where it stayed for four weeks. The Album would go on to win ACM 1969 Album of the year, and the single would take home both ACM Single Record of 1969 and 1969 Song of the Year, the song would go on to be the biggest hit of the superstar’s career.
Thousands of people from all over the world come to Muskogee each year to see the legendary town depicted in the song. “There have been many times we meet tourists from overseas who don’t speak much English, but they can say “Okie From Muskogee” which lets us know just how wide the impact of this goes, said O’Neal. “What we are looking to accomplish with this event is to celebrate a legacy and continue to draw on the attention the song has provided to our town.”
In the spirit of celebrating the 1969 event, the ticket prices will be the same as they were in 1969 - $3.00, $3.50 and $4.00. The event will also offer a special VIP seating and reception package available in a limited amount. Further details about the event will be released in coming weeks and tickets will go on sale August 10, 2019 at www.visitmuskogee.com.
For more information on the event go to www.visitmuskogee.com or contact the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism at (918) 682-2401.