Country music veteran Merle Haggard was laid to rest on Saturday (April 9). The funeral service was a private affair attended by family, friends and specially invited guests. Held at his ranch in Shasta County, California, the service was officiated by Haggard's friend Marty Stuart.
Among those who attended the service were surviving members of Haggard's band the Strangers. Fuzzy Owen, the band's manager, bus driver and steel guitarist; Don Markham, trumpet and saxophone player; Biff Adam, drummer; and steel player Norm Hamlet all appeared at the ceremony.
The service features special music by Kris Kristofferson who offered three tunes, including his tune later recorded by Willie Nelson, "For a Moment of Forever." Connie Smith and former Stranger Ronnie Reno contributed songs individually as well as a duet of Haggard's "Silver Wings." Nelson's son Micah joined Kristofferson for "Pancho and Lefty." Haggard's children closed out the ceremony with "Today I Started Loving You Again."
In March 2016, Haggard was once again hospitalized. His concerts for April were canceled due to his ongoing double pneumonia. On the morning of April 6, 2016, his 79th birthday, he died of complications from pneumonia at his home in Palo Cedro, California. His son Ben said that Haggard had predicted the day of his death a week prior.