1. Toby Keith Reflects on His 'Idol' Merle Haggard Ahead of Tribute

    April 28, 2016 1:47 AM EDT Country star Toby Keith said it was always a thrill to perform with Merle Haggard , whether it was playing together for fun or helping Haggard finish one of his last shows before his death at age 79. The "Beer for My Horses" singer-songwriter will perform a tribute to the late…

  2. Tom Waits Shares Moving Tribute to Merle Haggard

    April 20, 2016 3:25 AM EDT Tom Waits has penned a touching tribute to the late country great Merle Haggard .  Waits, who grew up around San Diego, not far from where Haggard was born, recalls how his formative years were shaped by the iconic artist. “When I was a teenager I was listening to songs like they were books…

  3. Merle Haggard: Born an Outsider, Died an Icon

    April 15, 2016 1:09 PM EDT Sometime in the 1970s, when country artists still frowned upon overdubbing their recordings, Merle Haggard went into the control booth after a performance to consult with Jim Williamson, who engineered the bulk of Haggard's sessions for roughly 15 years. Williamson, now deceased, told…

  4. 'Merle Did Things His Way': Country Radio Programmers Cite Haggard's Enduring Influence

    April 13, 2016 12:53 PM EDT Merle Haggard ’s death from pneumonia on April 6 hit many country radio programmers hard, and left them pausing to reflect on the County Music Hall of Famer’s profound and lasting influence on the format. For some, “Hag” was part of the reason they pursued careers in country radio in the…

  5. Merle Haggard's Songs Celebrated at 'All For The Hall' Concert in Nashville

    April 13, 2016 1:35 AM EDT The Sixth Annual “All For The Hall” concert, held last night (April 12) at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, turned into a Merle Haggard  tribute. Several of the performers -- all of whom donated their time and talents to benefit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum -- picked out their…

  6. Takeover Tuesday: Miranda Lambert's 'Keeper of the Flame' Tour Playlist

    April 12, 2016 4:38 PM EDT Welcome back to  Takeover Tuesday , where each week  Billboard  taps charting artists and tastemakers to compile their very own playlist exclusive to Billboard 's Spotify account . We give the artists free reign to base the list on whatever subject they want and add whatever tracks they…

  7. Merle Haggard Laid to Rest in Private Ceremony Officiated by Marty Stuart

    April 11, 2016 11:51 AM EDT Outlaw country icon  Merle Haggard was laid to rest in a private funeral service on Saturday on the "Silver Wings" singer's Palo Cedro, California, ranch. Haggard, who died April 6 at age 79 after a battle with pneumonia, was remembered in a ceremony that featured a number of…

  8. Why Is An Album Of Merle Haggard Re-Recordings His Top Seller At iTunes?

    April 08, 2016 4:48 PM EDT In a strange turn of events, the top-selling Merle Haggard album on iTunes in the days immediately following his death on March 6 is a collection called 40 Greatest Hits -- containing not the original, familiar versions of the country legend’s best-known songs, but versions recorded decades…

  9. Jason Isbell on Merle Haggard's Gift: He Was 'Always Able to Live Inside His Songs'

    April 08, 2016 1:11 PM EDT Acclaimed singer-songwriter  Jason Isbell  shares the secrets of Merle Haggard's greatness: empathy. Merle Haggard was the best country songwriter there ever was. You always felt like he had experienced the things that he was writing about, and he used the kind of language that country…

  10. Garth Brooks Remembers Merle Haggard: He Was 'The Greatest Country Artist of All Time' (Exclusive)

    April 08, 2016 1:04 PM EDT Like millions, Garth Brooks grew up on the music of Merle Haggard . Below, in his own words, he shares some of his memories of the legend, who died April 6.  The first song of Haggard’s I remember hearing [was] “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down.” That was because of my dad. From the time…

  11. Merle Haggard on Death: 'Sometimes I Fear It and Other Times It Calls to Me Like a Forgotten Dream' (Exclusive)

    April 06, 2016 5:34 PM EDT Last summer Merle Haggard invited me to his ranch outside Redding, Calif., to discuss collaborating on an autobiography that was never realized.   “Might start off with a story about Bob Eubanks,” said Merle, “the host of The Newlyweds . I’ve known ol’ Bob forever. We’re about the same age,…

  12. Country Legend Merle Haggard Dead at 79

    April 06, 2016 2:36 PM EDT Merle Haggard , who overcame a youth of deprivation and imprisonment to become one of the enduring figures in hardcore country music, died Wednesday morning (April 6) in California at age 79. Associated Press reports his manager confirmed Haggard died of pneumonia.  Musicians We Lost in 2016…

  13. Merle Haggard Dead at 79: Artists React to Loss of the Outlaw Country Icon

    April 06, 2016 1:59 PM EDT Country icon Merle Haggard died Wednesday morning (April 6) on his 79th birthday. Country artists, singer-songwriters and musicians across the nation are reacting online to the news.  Country Legend Merle Haggard Dead at 79 Read their reactions below.  "I was always so inspired by the…

  14. Billy Joel, Metallica and The Supremes' Songs Named to National Recording Registry

    March 23, 2016 3:08 AM EDT Timeless tunes from Billy Joel ("Piano Man"), Gloria Gaynor ("I Will Survive"), The Supremes ("Where Did Our Love Go"), John Coltrane ("A Love Supreme") and Merle Haggard ("Mama Tried") have been selected for induction into the Library of…

  15. Merle Haggard Back In Hospital With Pneumonia

    March 02, 2016 1:03 AM EST Country icon Merle Haggard is in a California hospital for treatment of a recurring bout of double pneumonia. A statement from his publicist on Tuesday said Haggard has had to postpone his concert dates in March. Merle Haggard Returns to the Stage Ahead of Schedule The 78-year-old singer had…

  16. Merle Haggard Nixes Live Shows Due to Illness

    February 04, 2016 3:07 AM EST Country legend Merle Haggard has scrapped the remainder of his live schedule for the month of February due to ill health.  Haggard has struggled with double pneumonia of late. The Country Music Hall of Famer canceled a performance just prior to taking the stage in Riverside, California on…

  17. Red Simpson, Pioneer of the Bakersfield Sound, Dies at 81

    January 09, 2016 6:15 PM EST Red Simpson , who helped serve as an architect to the Bakersfield Sound, has died. He was 81. Simpson was on a tour in the Pacific Northwest recently when he suffered a heart attack. After being released, he fell ill again on Friday (Jan. 8) and was rushed to a Bakersfield, Calif., hospital,…

  18. Gatlin Brothers Defend Controversial Songs About Guns, Religion: 'Everybody Is So Sensitive'

    November 20, 2015 5:41 PM EST "Young Jewish Lawyer" & "An American With a Remington," from new album "The Gospel According to Gatlin," have raised eyebrows. The latest album from Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers is called The Gospel According to Gatlin, and as the title of the Curb…

  19. Lady Antebellum's Dave Haywood Picks His Top 5 Country Artists of All Time

    November 12, 2015 9:00 AM EST Lady Antebellum 's Dave Haywood tells Billboard  that picking his five favorite country artists "may be the hardest question of all time. How do you pick just five? You're making it really hard!" See the All-Time Charts:  Billboard 200 Albums  |  Billboard 200 Artists  | …

  20. Jon Pardi Brings Joy to the Job With Cheery 'Head Over Boots'

    September 28, 2015 2:02 PM EDT The Capitol artist finds trad-country inspiration in Texas. “Everybody needs a happy song.” And Jon Pardi is happy to oblige, especially if it means he can keep making music. His debut album, 2014’s Write You a Song , established him as a guy with a strong honky-tonk background who knows…

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