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.
Love and prayers for the Haggard family. Merle was a pioneer...a true entertainer...a legend. There will never be another like him.
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) April 6, 2016
There are no words to describe the loss & sorrow felt within all of music with the passing of Merle Haggard. Thank God for his life & songs. — Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) April 6, 2016
Hard to believe the news about Merle Haggard. Working with him is something I'll never forget & will cherish forever pic.twitter.com/XsgqYvbtD5 — Dustin Lynch (@dustinlynch) April 6, 2016
Merle Haggard was the best country songwriter there ever was.
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) April 6, 2016
literally just fell to the floor. can't believe we lost the hag. rip merle haggard — Dierks Bentley (@DierksBentley) April 6, 2016
There will never be another artist like the Hag... Rest In Peace Merle Haggard — ChrisYoungMusic (@ChrisYoungMusic) April 6, 2016
Merle Haggard sang & wrote the very 1st songs that ALABAMA played in public, "Sing Me Back Home" & "Silver Wings" To the group ALABAMA... — ALABAMA (@TheAlabamaBand) April 6, 2016
He was more than a great talent. He was a gifted poet. What a huge inspiration he was to everyone! RIP Merle Haggard pic.twitter.com/AneyiMgdsh
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) April 6, 2016
RIP Merle...you paved the way for so many. You had what we all hope for...a voice that matters and survives the ever changing trends. — Kip Moore (@KipMooreMusic) April 6, 2016
song of the day: MAMA TRIED - MERLE HAGGARD — Rob Thomas (@ThisIsRobThomas) April 6, 2016