While writing the book I am also in the process of producing an online Picture eBook with

pictures and short stories from my thousands of pictures, 12 years of journals and inter-

views and will forward the link to each person that jumps on board with a pre order for

the book.  Order the book now and will send you a segment of the Picture eBook with

over 100 of pictures I took of Merle Haggard being the "Road Warrior" that he truly was.

 

The Me & Merle Memoir venture includes the printed book the eBook and digital media

aspects including website and social networking, a book song.  Merle and I talk about

me writing this book when I was on his bus with him the last show he ever played and

only two months before he passed away.  He asked me, "Do you think you got enough?"

Merle: “I have been knowing Benford about 10 to 12 years. When I ran into Benford, I realized that he was in a search

for all the information he could find. Seems like every time we get together we end up in the same area, something

about country music history. He is a history buff and I guess I am too...I enjoy digging out the truth of what really

occurred. Benford is one of those kind of people also.”

Chuck: Have you learned much from Benford? He has been chasing the stories and his life sounds a lot like Jimmie's

Rodgers life himself.

Merle: “I've learned a lot from Benford. He knows stories about Jimmie Rodgers that leads to other people like Hank

Snow and Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell. I don't know why my passion level is as a child. I am still interested in finding

out something about my heroes, and he is in the same business (laughs). When I see him coming I know what we

are going to be talking about. I know he is a history buff and a interesting person and he has worked awful hard to

prepare this chunk of history.

Chuck: Merle, you don't let a lot of people just come on the bus, or go on tours with you? Merle: “No, that's right.”        

Chuck: How come Benford made it into the mix?

Merle: Well, I could tell immediately that he was (pause) “Knowledgeable” about what he talked about and that was

interesting to me. I didn't know if he was there to tell me something or find out something but it is always interesting

to talk to Benford.”  This is all on film from a interview with Merle by filmmaker Chuck Banner

SURF DOWN FOR MORE ON MY FRIENDSHIP AND WORK WITH MERLE

 

Train Switchman for $25.00

1. Your name in the Thank You section of book

2. Thank You email from the Author

3. Picture of Merle and I in his studio.

4. Online Picture eBook of Haggard when you order

 

 

Train Brakeman for $50.00

1. Your name in the Thank You section of book

2. Thank You email from the Author

3. Early release of the Digital eBook

4. Picture of Merle and I in his studio

5. Your name in Thank You area on website

6. Online 100 Pictures eBook of Haggard when you order

PAYPAL ACCEPTS CREDIT CARDS

Train Conductor for $75.00

1. Your name in the Thank You section of book

2. Thank You email from the Author

3. Picture of Merle and I in his studio

4. Your name in Thank You area on book website

5.  Early release of the Digital eBook

6. Online Picture eBook of Haggard when you order

7. Copy of first edition of book with autograph

Train Engineer for $100.00

1. Your name in the Thank You section of book

2. Thank You email from the Author

3. Your name in Thank You area section on website

4. 2 Pictures of Merle and I in his studio

5.  Early release of the Digital eBook

6. Online 100 Picture eBook of Haggard when order

7. 30 minute talk on the phone with Benford about Merle

8. 2 copies of first edition of book with autograph

_________________________________________________________________

 

The information below gives an idea to what I have to work with, and some history on

my 12 year friendship with Merle Haggard.

 

I first met Merle in 2003, as part of my on-going research into the life of Jimmie Rodgers,

after Willie Nelson advised me, “If you want to know something about Jimmie Rodgers, you

need to talk to Merle Haggard.”  After that I went down a road for seven  years to get to The

Hag.  At one point reaching Frank Mull, who's a friend to this day, and who had been working

with Merle for near 40 years, wearing many hats including tour manager, friend, and more.

 

I spent about a year within Merle’s closely knit entourage, patiently explaining my interest in

Merle’s stories about Rodgers, but without actually meeting Merle. As many journalists and

researchers know, it sometimes takes a while for an important, and maybe eccentric, artist

to feel comfortable about a stranger; he seemed to know I was around, but he was letting his

folks do the vetting.

 

 

Once we finally got together, Merle did indeed have a lot to say about Jimmie, which I re-

corded in notes, audio, and video recordings. Soon though, as Merle and I grew closer, I

found that I was recording more and more about Merle’s life, for he could not talk about

Rodgers without talking about his music saga, with stories about Lefty Frizzell and Bob

Wills.  I also began filming his performances and the actual touring scene of his band and

crew and over the years, Merle the living legend.

 

Over the course of two years, I grew into my new role as a confidant to Merle, traveling with

him on the road and visiting his ranch in Redding, California; I was always welcome on the

tour bus, his inner sanctum, for many interviews and just plain old conversations. I think he

came to trust me because of my passion to tell the Jimmie Rodgers story and connect the

dots between Jimmie and between him and his hero Lefty Frizzell.  Plus, me being an Okie

that had worked on the Santa Fe Railroad, plus he said in an interview "When I see ole

Benford walk up I know we are going to be talking about something interesting...he is a

history buff and I am too."

 

 

However, from Merle's side of the fence, he told me that because of my National work to

help runaway and missing children was why he and I met.  Over the years we started

working together on the Jimmie documentary, and I was filming some of his shows, and

as we were developing a friendship, and after the six week tour with Bob Dylan, and I

was showing him some of the film footage he asked me if I wanted to help him with his

archives, and to help develop a treatment and a trailer for a movie that he wanted to get

to the producer Ron Howard, or he would say maybe Clint Eastwood or Robert Duvall.

I said, "Hell Yes, I'd love to."

 

He and I began to work on his movie venture, and he was helping me on the Jimmie

Rodgers project.  Down the road we started working together on The Merle Haggard

Complex that was to be in Oklahoma, and working with some of the Native American

Casinos.  We are working on a Haggard wine and had the label done and on the way to

finding a vineyard, a Lefty Frizzell movie and I was helping him with his archives.

 

And so it came to pass, kind of creeping up on me, that I was in this privileged position

as the chief historian, or archivist, of Merle’s recollected life, in his own words and

helping him with his legacy. And all along taking thousands and thousands of pictures

and filming him performing and numerous interviews.  Merle would introduce me to the

likes of George Strait or Toby Keith as his "video guy."  I was the only still and video

camera allowed on the Bob Dylan/Merle Haggard tour.  This went on for 12 years.

 

 

My life on the road, onstage, on board his Silver Chief bus with Merle, with his band and

crew is a story that I know he wanted me to tell.  A few months after his death it came to

me that he had passed on some of his legacy to me, an unspoken passing to the future,

not unlike Woody Guthrie might have done with my ole pal Ramblin' Jack Elliott.

 

Merle's life was country music history itself, and he knew it was.  He wanted to tell some-

one that would not only listen, but help him document and archive his tale.  While we were

talking about Jimmie Rodgers, Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Cash, Bob Wills, Willie and others

who were his heroes and saddle pals, he told me his story for it was entwined in their

story.  He really wanted to tell the stores of the great icons that he knew.

 

I knew very well the scene around Merle, and I know that from managers to security and

his bus drivers, photographers were kept away from Merle.  He did not want them back

stage and he sure didn't want them on his bus, or out on his ranch.  Because of this I

know I have a very special story to tell about my time with this living legend.  After his

bout with lung cancer the stories picked up, I think he knew, like Jimmie Rodgers that

his time was not long.

 

Being as close as I was to Merle, I knew that he was a very private man, and had a small

circle of people that helped him keep him on the road, and I saw him run off more writers

than set with any and talk.  I say this because I know I have a unique story to tell about

Merle, which was during a period of time that he was not only touring as a great living

legend, but was on a rise to a new level of his fame.

 

MERLE HAGGARD THE LIVING LEGEND

 

It has been said a number of times that there may never be another legend like Haggard,

his boots may never be filled.  He received many many awards over 4 decades including

The Kennedy Center Honor, over 20 awards from the Academy of Country Music, including

the Pioneer Award, Triple Crown, Poet's Award and the Crystal Milestone Award.  The

BMI Icon Award, six Country Music Association Awards, inducted into the Country Music

Hall of Fame, four Grammy Awards including the Lifetime Achievement and Hall of Fame

Award, Inducted into the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame,

and in 2014, CMT honored him with the Artist of a Lifetime Award.  In 2016 The ACM

created a new Award give in honor of the iconic singer, The ACM Merle Haggard Sprit

Award, which was presented to Miranda Lambert.

 

Merle earned the status of a "living legend" and influenced thousands including the likes

of George Strait, Toby Keith, Alan Jackson, Blake Shelton, and on and on...He was a

band leader, a songwriter, a singer, a guitar player, and known to have created the

"Bakersfield Sound" along with his friend Buck Owens.  His music was a sound track

for the displaced Okies during the dust bowl, he was the working man's poet.  Bob Dylan

told Rolling Stone, "Totally himself.  Herculean.  Even too big for Mount Rushmore.  No

superficiality about him whatsoever.  He definitely transcends the country genre.  If Merle

had been around Sun Studio in Memphis in the Fifties, Sam Phillips would have turned

him into a rock & roll star."

 

Please visit link to my website and bio below and you will see I have been a promoter

and producer for 40 years, and I plan to use that experience to promote this book and

the Legacy of Merle Haggard, I owe it to him, for he with unspoken trust passed on

his legacy to me, for he trust that I would do something to take it further down the road

to being told.  He had me hiding hard drives, told me that he did not want any Hollywood

types getting hold if this till we were ready.

 

 

THIS WILL GREATLY HELP TO KEEP THE PUBLISHING OF THE BOOK INDEPENDENT...

if interested email Benford Standley @ westmultimedia@gmail.com 

eBook released early if you pre-purchase here now

printed book to be released on Haggard's birthday April 6, 2020

 

Merle Haggard, Austin Court (great grandson of Jimmie Rodgers) and

Producer Benford Standley (taken by Ben Haggard) one of the very

if not the last picture taken of Merle in public...ever!

 

Train Switchman for $25.00

1. Your name in the Thank You section of book

2. Thank You email from the Author

3. Picture of Merle and I in his studio.

4. Online Picture eBook of Haggard when

you order with over 100 photos.

 

 

Train Brakeman for $50.00

1. Your name in the Thank You section of book

2. Thank You email from the Author

3. Early release link of the Digital eBook

4. Picture of Merle and I in his studio

5. Your name in Thank You area on website

6. Online Picture eBook of Haggard when

you order with over 100 photos.

PAYPAL ACCEPTS CREDIT CARDS

Train Conductor for $75.00

1. Your name in the Thank You section of book

2. Thank You email from the Author

3. Picture of Merle and I in his studio

4. Your name in Thank You area on the book website

5. Early release link of the Digital eBook

6. Online Picture eBook of Haggard when

you order with over 100 photos.

7. Copy of first edition of book with autograph

Train Engineer for $100.00

1. Your name in the Thank You section of book

2. Thank You email from the Author

3. Your name in Thank You area section on website

4. 2 Pictures of Merle and I in his studio

5.  Early release link of the Digital eBook

6. Online Picture eBook of Haggard when

you order with over 100 photos.

7. 30 minute talk on phone with Benford about Merle

8. Two copies of first edition of book with autograph

 

BenfordStandley.com

westmultimedia@gmail.com

 

IF NOT INTERESTED IN THE ABOVE YOU CAN DONATE

ebook and printed book to be released April 6, 2020