(PCM) The music world lost it’s original outlaw! Legendary country artist Merle Haggard sadly passed away on what was his 79th birthday. His passing was confirmed by his publicist John Della Croce. From 1966-1987, Haggard released 38 singles that landed at No. 1 on the Billboard Country chart. Throughout his career, he garnered 19 ACM Awards, 6 CMA Awards, and 2 Grammy Awards. His song “Mama Tried” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. In 1994, Haggard was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The country music world is mourning his loss with an outpouring of love, support and touching messages.
We’ve lost one of the greatest writers and singers of all time. His heart was as tender as his love ballads. I loved him like a brother. Rest easy, Merle. — Dolly Parton
We’ve lost another hero. Now he doesn’t have to be in pain anymore. I know he’s not suffering anymore. I just can’t imagine a world without Merle. It’s so hard to accept, but I’ll continue honoring him on stage just as I do during every show. We played a lot of gigs together through the years, but some of my fondest memories were hanging out in a natural setting, like the time we sat there by the river in his backyard and ate bologna sandwiches. Merle was a simple man with incredible talent like no other. And now he’s up there singing with George [Jones] and all the angels. Love you, Merle. — Tanya Tucker
Merle Haggard was an original. Not just a singer, not just a songwriter, not just another famous performer. He was your common everyday working man. I remember when I was 15 years old on tour with Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. They both were wondering which one of the two was going to make it. Well, they both made it. Today, ole Merle joined Waylon, George, and daddy to sing in the Heavenly choir. — Hank Williams, Jr.
A few years ago Merle sent me a song he wanted The Oak Ridge Boys to record. He’d written it with Kenny Vernon. When I heard it, I felt there was no way we could do it unless we asked Merle to do it with us.
His response was, “Anything you ‘Boys’ want.”
So, we recorded “Sweet Jesus,” and it won a Gospel Music Association Dove Award for Best Country Song. It was a huge honor to sing with one of our biggest heroes, Merle Haggard.
May he rest in peace in the arms of Sweet Jesus. — Duane Allen / Oak Ridge Boys
Merle was a singer’s singer, a musician’s musician, and a songwriter’s songwriter. He set the feelings of the everyday common man to music, creating songs that will outlive us all. I feel privileged to have toured with him and known him as both a great artist and as a friend. His passing leaves a big hole in country music and in the hearts of the millions who loved him and his artistry. — Bill Anderson
Merle always treated me like a true friend treats his true friends. We had great fun every time we worked together. He was one of the good ones. Getting to see God’s face on your birthday, what a wonderful gift! — T. Graham Brown
George and I loved Merle so much. George would always say nobody could ever sing like Merle Haggard. Merle was one of our Country Heroes. Now, George and Merle are together again singing with the Angel Band. — Nancy Jones