NASHVILLE, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. country music icon Merle Haggard has released the first bluegrass album of his more than 40-year career.
Haggard recorded "The Bluegrass Sessions" in Nashville with a group of well-credentialed pickers led by Marty Stuart, with producer Ronnie Reno overseeing the project and Alison Krauss performing on a new version of Haggard's "Mama's Hungry Eyes."
"I go all the way back to the original Stanley Brothers and the Don Reno-Red Smiley records, things like that," Haggard said of his affinity for bluegrass. "It's not something new to me. It just didn't cross my mind to do (an album) before. We didn't have the right songs or something. I really don't know what it was."
Haggard said he planned to follow "The Bluegrass Sessions" with "a full-fledged rock 'n' roll album" for which he's already recorded 18 songs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards will be among the guests contributing to that project.