Country music legend Merle Haggard dies on 79th birthday

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Musician Merle Haggard performs onstage during day one of 2015 Stagecoach, California's Country Music Festival, at The Empire Polo Club on April 24, 2015 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Country giant Merle Haggard, who celebrated outlaws, underdogs and an abiding sense of national pride in such hits as “Okie From Muskogee” and “Sing Me Back Home,” died Wednesday at 79, on his birthday.

Haggard’s manager, Frank Mull, said the country icon died in Palo Cedro, California, of pneumonia. TMZ reported Haggard was diagnosed with pneumonia last year and spent 11 days in the hospital.

He was touring and set to perform Thursday night in Missouri, but canceled his April shows last week.

Mull told TMZ Haggard predicted he would died on his birthday.

A masterful guitarist, fiddler and songwriter as well as singer, the Country Music Hall of Famer recorded for more than 40 years, releasing dozens of albums and No. 1 hits.

Many modern country music stars were quick to pay their respects and tip their hats to the legend.