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.
literally just fell to the floor. can't believe we lost the hag. rip merle haggard
— Dierks Bentley (@DierksBentley) April 6, 2016
rip @merlehaggard thank you for all the great music u blessed us with. we will play it forever
— Billy Currington (@billycurrington) April 6, 2016
"Mighty" Merle Haggard was the greatest country songwriter of ALL TIME. We shared many great memories, and I will miss him. #merlehaggard
— John Rich (@johnrich) April 6, 2016