On this day in 1937, country music legend—and close friend of Smokey Bear—Merle Haggard was born in Oildale, California. Merle put his own spin on Smokey’s fire prevention message in this poster by declaring “Keep it Country, Keep it Green!” The poster appeared during the year Smokey turned 50. The Forest Service thoughtfully captioned the photo in case you can’t tell which one is Merle and which is Smokey. Click on the photo to see the entire image.
Merle is one of many popular singers who has lent his celebrity to Smokey’s cause over the years. However, we don’t know if Merle ever recorded that great “Smokey the Bear” song made famous by singer Eddie Arnold. Arnold sang it for a public service announcement in 1952. This video is available as an extra on our “The Greatest Good” DVD set. Country music legend and that star of the silver screen Gene Autry also recorded the song. Vaughn Monroe opted to sing his most famous song, “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” in his PSA in addition to singing the “Smokey” song. But I’d bet that the Okie from Muskougee could outdo them all