It’s no secret that The Hag built a name for himself as a country music legend, defying the odds after a tumultuous youth full of crime, that ultimately landed him in San Quentin Prison.
Of course, we all know it was his time in San Quentin that inspired him to pursue country music full time, after witnessing Johnny Cash’s epic live performance at the prison.
Considering he spent nearly three years in San Quentin, who can blame the guy for wanting to cut loose and have a good time once he reached country music stardom, after spending three years of his life behind bars in a maximum security prison?
In the autobiography The Hag recalled a time back in the late ’70s to early ’80s, when he would spend his days off the road on his houseboat alongside his songwriting buddy Freddy Powers on Lake Shasta in Shasta County, California.
Needless to say, the parties out there were epic.
However, in 1983, Merle hit his peak of what we might call self-destructive fun when he bought $2,000 worth of cocaine and spent five straight months partying on the boat.
He says in the book:
“For thirty-one days straight I never left the lake. I had my toothbrush tied to the boat and let it dangle in the water of Lake Shasta. We drank cayenne pepper drinks and wore very little clothes, if any.
There was lots of drugs, women, good friends, good music, and fun.”
Although he didn’t bring up the name, he recalled a time on the lake when:
“A famous female country star and I once spent five days nude on that boat… we snorted drugs the entire time and didn’t go to sleep once.”
Could you imagine how wild those parties were back in the day? The Hag, a bunch of other celebrities, and a ton of good lookin’ women strutting around the houseboat in their birthday suits, hammering beers (and other substances), just walking around on cloud nine?
Granted, there’s nothing glamourous about addiction, it’s an absolutely devastating problem to overcome, one that ruins lives, careers, relationships, and more.
But it sounds like ol’ Merle was just partying hard, living that rockstar life and trying to combat a little burnout from the road. And while he may have quite the reputation for being a country music outlaw, Merle’s drug use was really only for a short stint.
According to GQ, put an end to it all shortly after that.
“Haggard says he snapped out of it when he realized that he had been on his houseboat naked with some good-looking woman for five days and had yet to have sex with her, though that was what they were both there for. He says he never did cocaine again.”
No doubt about it, some serious fun was had that summer… Merle even released a song about it in 2011.
Titled “Down On The Houseboat,” it was written by Merle, along with his wife Theresa Haggard and Doug Colosio for his Working In Tennessee record.