One of music’s most respected artists, Merle Haggard, has died following a prolonged battle with pneumonia. He turned 79 today. “Hag,” as his friends and fans called him, was the very definition of a “legend:” singer, songwriter, musician, bandleader. A member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame, and recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors award, among many other accolades. His string of hits stretched from the 1960’s to the 1990’s, and his influence extends well beyond the Country music genre.
So many words will be written and spoken in memory of the “Poet of the Common Man,” and that’s as it should be. There are a handful of artists whose place in their art seems larger than life, and Merle Haggard ranks among them. When Merle’s good friend and duet partner George Jones died in September of 2013, it was a sobering reminder to all of us who love Country music that the answer to the question posed in Jones’ 1985 hit, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,” is…nobody. There will never be another like Haggard, Jones, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn…well, you get the idea.
Over the next few days, we will be paying tribute to Merle Haggard on Country Legends 106.9 in a way I believe he would think is fitting: we will play many of his songs, including some you haven’t heard in a long time…or possibly have never heard. With a catalog that includes more than 70 albums, some 600 songs, and 40 Number One singles, we’ll have much from which to choose.
We extend our deepest sympathies to Merle’s family, friends, band members, and his millions of fans around the world. At the time of this writing, funeral arrangements are pending.
Rest in peace, Merle Ronald Haggard. Your music will always be played on Country Legends 106.9.