Music legend Merle Haggard died on April 6, 2016 at her home in the San Joaquin Valley, California, after a brief battle with pneumonia. The singer died on his 79th birthday. The beloved country star recorded more than three dozen No. 1 country hits in a musical career, spanning six decades from the 1960s through the 2010s.
A&E broadcast a tribute to Haggard on Monday, April 12, claiming that they “captured the most iconic moments of a one-night concert event honoring Merle Haggard and her music, on what would have been her 80th birthday. Packed with captivating live performances, never-before-seen interviews and exclusive behind-the-scenes videos with some of the biggest superstars in music. “
Haggard had a history of diseases that led to his death, including clogged arteries and lung cancer. The country’s icon underwent angioplasty in 1995 to unblock his arteries, according to Cleveland.com. Several years later, in 2008, Haggard was diagnosed with lung cancer and had part of his lung removed; however, he was back on his feet two months after the pulmonary procedure and continued his tour until shortly before his death.
In December 2015, Haggard was treated for an episode of pneumonia and, although he recovered, he was forced to postpone several concerts. He was hospitalized again in March after he continued to have trouble breathing, and just a few weeks later, Haggard died at his California home from complications with the respiratory infection.
Haggard’s death was deeply felt around the world, with millions of fans, celebrities and musicians paying tribute to the country star.
Country music legend Willie Nelson took the news of Haggard’s death particularly hard, as the two were as “close as brothers,” according to a 2014 Rolling Stone interview with Haggard.
“He was my brother, my friend. I’ll miss him, ”said Nelson, who captioned a photo of the two together on the day of Haggard’s death. He also added a link to a YouTube video of the hit single “Poncho and Lefty,” which the two recorded together in 1983.
According to Haggard’s son Ben, the country music legend predicted his own death shortly before his passing. After canceling several of her April concerts due to ongoing complications from pneumonia, she told her son that she expected to die on his birthday, April 6.
Ben Haggard took to Facebook to share the heartbreaking story along with an emotional image of the two holding hands on their deathbed.
“A week ago, Dad told us that his birthday was going to happen and that he was not wrong. An hour ago he took his last breath surrounded by family and friends, ”Haggard posted on Facebook on the day of his father’s death. “He loved everything about life and loved that each of you gave him a chance with your music. He wasn’t just a country singer… He was the best country singer who ever lived. “
Merle Haggard: Salute to a Country Legend aired Monday night at 11 p.m.