BREAKING NEWS: Merle Haggard Dies On 79th Birthday
UPDATE AT 10:56 AM PACIFIC — According To NBC New York, Merle Haggard's manager Frank Mull has confirmed his death from pneumonia in Palo Cedro, California.
Multiple sources, including The Tennessean, have reported that country music legend Merle Haggard has died on the day he turned 79. According to Billboard, he had cancelled his concerts for this month due to serious bouts of pneumonia.
The performer had led a rough life, including incarceration, but credited a jailhouse performance by Johnny Cash as inspiration for him joining a prison country music band that later contributed to his long career. Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and hugely influential in his genre, Haggard released numerous successful albums and is known for tunes like "Mama Tried," "Workin' Man Blues," "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive," and "Okie From Muskogee."
His criminal record was later expunged by then-governor Ronald Reagan. He also gained attention and the ire of a recording company by writing a song criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to allow American flags to be burned in protest.
Shortly after Haggard's death, country musician Brad Paisley wrote on Twitter, "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."
On Twitter as well, Carrie Underwood added, "Love and prayers for the Haggard family. Merle was a pioneer...a true entertainer...a legend. There will never be another like him."