Bakersfield already knew Merle Haggard was a talent on par with the likes of Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. Now the development team that created a pair of Nashville museums that honor those two stars is set to lionize the Bakersfield great with a permanent Music City museum dedicated exclusively to his life and work.
Bill and Shannon Miller will open the Merle Haggard Museum and Merle's Meat + Three Saloon in summer 2018. The Shannons have co-founded museums for Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline in recent years.
The Nashville Tennessean, which first had the story, reports the museum will feature instruments, clothing, memorabilia, awards and other artifacts that belonged to Haggard.
Bill Miller paid just over $7 million for the 15,447-square-foot building last fall, according to The Tennesseean, which reports that the Merle Haggard Museum will be located on an upper floor. The saloon will be on the ground level.
Haggard died on April 6, 2016, his 79th birthday.
Merle's Meat + Three Saloon will be, according to its logo, "powered by Swett's," a reference to a well-loved, 60-year-old Nashville restaurant, the Tennesseean reports.
Born and raised in Bakersfield, Haggard was an architect of country music's Bakersfield Sound.
Like Haggard, Miller has roots in inland California. Miller, the former mayor of Corona, is a former associate producer of live radio show Grand Ole Gospel Time and previously owned an autograph and memorabilia company.
Miller opened the Cash Museum in 2013 and more recently Nudie’s Honky Tonk, at 409 Broadway, in honor of the late country music tailor Nudie Cohn, and the Patsy Cline Museum, housed directly above the Cash Museum.
Miller had promised Nashville a project honoring another major country icon in the same building as Mr. Hat’s Boot Co. He said, two months ago, the new museum would be themed around an artist he described “as a legacy brand.”
Haggard is most certainly that.