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R.I.P. Merle Haggard, country music legend has died at the age of 79

on April 06, 2016, 1:44pm

Country music legend Merle Haggard has died. According to TMZ, Haggard passed away Wednesday, the same day he turned 79 years old.

Haggard was diagnosed with pneumonia last year and spent 11 days in the hospital earlier this year, TMZ reports. Despite his illness, he maintained his prolific work schedule, touring extensively throughout 2015 and releasing an album with Willie Nelson called Django and Jimmie. Further performances were scheduled for this month, but were canceled after his health took a turn for the worse.

Haggard, often called The Poet of the Common Man, came out of the honky tonk scene of California to become one of the founding voices of the Bakersfield Sound of the 1960s. His albums I’m a Lonesome Fugitive – Branded Man (1967) and 1968’s Sing Me Back Home and The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde helped establish him as a powerful voice in the country world. As the decade came to a close, Haggard become known for his openly right-wing political songs. His major hits, “Okie from Muskogee” and “The Fightin’ Side of Me”, both took on the perspective of a man frustrated with the anti-war sentiments permeating much of the country.

Haggard had 38 No. 1 country hits over the course of his 50-year career. He won numerous Academy of Country Music awards, as well as Grammys for Best Country Vocal Performance (1984 for “That’s the Way Love Goes”) and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (for the all-star track “Same Old Train” in 1998). He received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award for “Mama Tried” in 1999 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994.

Below, revisit some of Haggard’s most memorable classics.

“Okie from Muskogee”:

“The Fightin’ Side of Me”:

“Mama Tried”:

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