Country music legend and Oildale native, Merle Haggard has passed away yesterday, which also happened to be his 79th birthday. Haggard has died after a brief struggle with pneumonia. The singer will always be remembered as one of the pioneers of the Bakersfield sound. Haggard was also involved in the Outlaw Country movement.
Merle's son Ben Haggard has revealed over Facebook that Merle knew he would die on his birthday. He writes: "A week ago, dad told us he was gonna pass on his birthday, and he wasn't wrong. A hour ago, he took his last breath surrounded by family and friends."
"He loved everything about life, and he loved that every one of you gave him a chance with his music," Ben Haggard continues. "He wasn't just a country singer ... He was the best country singer that ever lived."
With his sweet words, Haggard also shared a black-and-white photo of himself and his father holding hands.
Ben Haggard is Merle Haggard's youngest son. His mother is Theresa Ann Lane, Haggard's fifth (and last) wife. Together, Haggard and Lane also had a daughter, Janessa.
Haggard has had more than 100 country chart singles, 38 No. 1 hits and close to 70 albums. He was able to play for President Nixon in 1973 and later performed for the Reagans. He has more than 600 songs under his belt, and Haggard wrote around 250 himself. Fans are especially fond of albums The Fightin' Side of Me (1970), Someday We'll Look Back (1971), If We Make It Through December (1974) and A Working Man Can't Get Nowhere Today (1977).
In his career, Haggard has won Entertainer of the Year, Grammy Awards, Kennedy Center Honors, the Crystal Milestone Award and countless others.