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Merle Haggard Dead at 79: Artists React To Outlaw's Death

By Ryan Middleton ryan.middleton@musictimes.com | Apr 06, 2016 03:53 PM EDT

Merle Haggard, the influential and highly successful country singer, songwriter, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, has died at the age of 79 today on his birthday.

The news was confirmed by his manager to WSMV, the local NBC affiliate in Nashville. He had been dealing with various illnesses over the past few months that forced him to cancel tour dates, though a cause of death is still unknown.

Haggard was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994. He was known for the use of fender telecaster, which brought a rough edge to his traditional country songs, while keeping his own words minimal.

Over his career he put out dozens of no. 1 hits including "Okie From Muskogee," "Always Wanting You," "My Favorite Memory," "Mama Tried" and "Daddy Frank."

The news has spread to artists from across music, but especially country artists who have been influenced by Haggard and hope to carry his torch still today. Haggard has been critical of modern country, but his sound is still felt throughout Nashville.

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