The death of country music legend Merle Haggard on his 79th birthday has brought forth an enormous outpouring of reactions on Twitter — tributes, remembrances, condolences and more from fellow music artists, celebrities and public figures all around the world. Here’s a roundup of what is being said.
It was Merle Haggard’s 79th birthday, April 6th. What would have been a day of celebration — the kind of day that we like to find those cheerful “happy birthday” posts in social media that might include a video of an iconic performance or a rare, vintage photo. But that day became also his death day and the tributes were retrospective expressions of appreciation and sorrow over the loss.
TMZ was among the first news outlets to report that Haggard had died at his home of double pneumonia which he had been battling for several weeks and also to report that, according to his manager, he had predicted he would die on his birthday. Right up until his death he had been touring with his band the Strangers and, as of this writing, one still finds when one Googles his name the full itinerary of the concerts that, sadly, will not take place.
His son, Ben Haggard, the lead guitarist in his band, posted a heartbreaking tribute to his father, and also shed some light on his final hours. He posted on Twitter and Facebook a photo (below) of his hand clasping his father, the identifying tattoo on his wrist, “PSI.” As US Weekly reports, it stands for the reform school he was sent to as a juvenile, the Preston School of Industry, back in those outlaw days that eventually landed him in San Quentin Prison in the late 1950s and that have become a part of his legacy.
And what a legacy it has been. Thousands and thousands of songs, from “Okie from Muskogee” to “Mama Tried” to “The Fightin’ Side of Me” and many more. He received about every possible award a legend might receive; Grammy Awards, ACM Awards and the like, but also induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and, in 2010 he was a Kennedy Center Honoree.
Now as the news sinks in that we have lost yet another musical giant, fellow country music artists, celebrities and public figures have all taken to Twitter and other social media to pay tribute to the life and legacy of Merle Haggard. Here’s a roundup of what’s being said.
— Ben Haggard (@BenHaggardMusic) April 6, 2016
Love and prayers for the Haggard family. Merle was a pioneer…a true entertainer…a legend. There will never be another like him.
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) April 6, 2016
There are no words to describe the loss & sorrow felt within all of music with the passing of Merle Haggard. Thank God for his life & songs.
— Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) April 6, 2016
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) April 6, 2016
Country music has suffered one of the greatest losses it will ever experience Rest in peace Merle Haggard
— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) April 6, 2016
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) April 6, 2016
— Vince Gill (@VGcom) April 6, 2016
We lost a true hero today & I'm very sad to say a true friend.
I will always be eternally grateful.
— Sturgill Simpson (@SturgillSimpson) April 6, 2016
Hard to believe the news about Merle Haggard. Working with him is something I'll never forget & will cherish forever pic.twitter.com/XsgqYvbtD5
— Dustin Lynch (@dustinlynch) April 6, 2016
Nobody ever sang a song with the heart and emotion that @merlehaggard did. No wonder it's raining today. Even God is crying.
— Jake Owen (@jakeowen) April 6, 2016
We've lost an American original. RIP Merle Haggard. Today was his birthday too. ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/8erKSIh6SA
— Johnny Knoxville (@realjknoxville) April 6, 2016
— rosanne cash (@rosannecash) April 6, 2016
Saddened by the loss of Merle. We lost a bad ass man, a great poet! I love you Merle. Prayers for his family. R.I.P. #MerleHaggard
— LeAnn Rimes Cibrian (@leannrimes) April 6, 2016
— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) April 6, 2016
— Reese Witherspoon (@RWitherspoon) April 6, 2016
literally just fell to the floor. can't believe we lost the hag. rip merle haggard
— Dierks Bentley (@DierksBentley) April 6, 2016
RIP Merle Haggard. To All my friends in Sanford Fla we had many memories with Hag on in the background. Tonight play silver wings in salute
— Larry The Cable Guy (@GitRDoneLarry) April 6, 2016
Unbelievably sad to hear of Merle Haggard's passing. What a mark he left on country music. Forever grateful for that. ❤️
— Cassadee Pope (@CassadeePope) April 6, 2016
I think I'll just stay here and drink. 💔
— KACEY MUSGRAVES (@KaceyMusgraves) April 6, 2016
There will never be another artist like the Hag… Rest In Peace Merle Haggard
— ChrisYoungMusic (@ChrisYoungMusic) April 6, 2016
Rest in peace, Hag. One of a kind, and the definition of legend. pic.twitter.com/aUGX22Avna
— Trisha Yearwood (@trishayearwood) April 6, 2016
“Jesus… Sweet Jesus…You love me just as I am… Jesus… Sweet Jesus… I’ve been washed in the Blood of the Lamb!” Merle Haggard #RIPHAG
— The Oak Ridge Boys (@oakridgeboys) April 6, 2016
— Jason Aldean (@Jason_Aldean) April 6, 2016
He was more than a great talent. He was a gifted poet. What a huge inspiration he was to everyone! RIP Merle Haggard pic.twitter.com/AneyiMgdsh
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) April 6, 2016
RIP Merle…you paved the way for so many. You had what we all hope for…a voice that matters and survives the ever changing trends.
— Kip Moore (@KipMooreMusic) April 6, 2016
— Florida Georgia Line (@FLAGALine) April 6, 2016
Reactions to the death continue as #MerleHaggard and #RIPMerleHaggard hashtags are trending on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media. Public figures, celebrities as well as fellow music artists continue to pay tribute to the man who was no less than a national treasure.
Pictures: PR Photos