According to Nashville’s Tennessean.com, a private funeral service will be held Saturday (April 9, 2016) in Palo Cedro, California, for country music legend Merle Haggard, who died Wednesday on his birthday at age 79.
Haggard had lived in California for many decades and grew up and began playing music in Bakersfield (later to become a core player in what came to be known as “The Bakersfield Sound,” along with Buck Owens, more recently Dwight Yoakum, and others playing country songs in a more “electric” and rock vein).
The Country Music Hall of Fame member had been battling double pneumonia for several months and had been forced to cancel a number of shows.
Haggard’s Last Show
He was ill at his very last appearance (February 6, 2016) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and, according to actor/musician W. Earl Brown, enlisted the help of country super-star Toby Keith, who just happened to be at the show.
“Toby Keith was in town with his wife to watch some football and have some fun. Toby got word that Merle was in Vegas, so he went to see him… Merle was in bad shape. He needed to be in a hospital – not on a stage; but The Show Must Go On. Merle would not take charity from anyone, but he did turn to Toby and say, ‘How many songs of mine do you know?’
‘All of ’em’ answered T.
‘All of ’em?’
‘Yep. And I won’t need a teleprompter.’
‘Well, stay nearby.’ After four or five songs, Merle’s infected lungs were spent. He couldn’t draw enough air to sing any longer. ‘We’ve, uh, we’ve got a special guest here tonight…’ Toby came out and sang the rest of the show….”