Haggard Goes Green In Bakersfield

Merle Haggard is burnishing his rebel image with talk of setting up an alternative energy business in his oil-rich hometown.

The 69-year-old country music legend said he’s considering buying a second home near his native Oildale and founding a "sensible" green energy project to help the United States kick its fossil-fuel habit, the Bakersfield Californian reported.

The project with local resident and actor Charlie Napier could also feature a museum and live music venue.

The Grammy Award-winning artist is best known for such songs as "Okie from Muskogee," "Pancho and Lefty" and "I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink." In the song "Kern River," he sings, "I grew up in an oil town, but my gusher never came in."

Haggard’s friend Willie Nelson has championed the development of alternative fuels, developing the BioWillie brand of biodiesel for truckers.

Most of California’s crude oil and onshore production is generated in Kern County, according to 2004 figures from the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce.

Haggard hasn’t lived in the Oildale area in 30 years, but Kern County officials recently voted to rename a portion a road as Merle Haggard Drive. Haggard held a concert Wednesday in Bakersfield to help pay for the change.