“He was my brother, my friend. I will miss him,” Willie Nelson said in a statement. Haggard had been scheduled to join Nelson on tour for four shows in May, in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, and the two had fun last year doing a video — see it below — for their tune “It’s All Going to Pot.”
“The greatest singer songwriter of my lifetime is gone,” Toby Keith said in a statement. “Thanks for the music and friendship. R.I.P. Hag.”
It was raining in Nashville, where the Grand Ole Opry tweeted: “Country music lost an icon today. Our hearts and prayers are with the Haggard family.”
FOR THE RECORD:
2:56 p.m.: An earlier version of this article said Haggard died at home in North Carolina. Haggard, who was born in Oildale, near Bakersfield, passed away in his home state of California.
And Jake Owen, who has said he grew up listening to Haggard, tied it all together.
“Nobody ever sang a song with the heart and emotion that @merlehaggard did,” Owen said. “No wonder it’s raining today. Even God is crying.”
Country music has suffered one of the greatest losses it will ever experience Rest in peace Merle Haggard— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) 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
And the statements kept flowing through the afternoon:
“He was your common everyday working man. I remember when I was 15 years old on tour with Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. They both were wondering which one of the two was going to make it. Well, they both made it. Today, ole Merle joined Waylon, George, and daddy to sing in the Heavenly choir,” said Hank Williams Jr.
“We’ve lost another hero,” said Tanya Tucker. “Now he doesn’t have to be in pain anymore. I know he’s not suffering anymore. I just can’t imagine a world without Merle. It’s so hard to accept, but I’ll continue honoring him on stage just as I do during every show. We played a lot of gigs together through the years, but some of my fondest memories were hanging out in a natural setting, like the time we sat there by the river in his backyard and ate bologna sandwiches. Merle was a simple man with incredible talent like no other. And now he’s up there singing with George [Jones] and all the angels. Love you, Merle.”
From Dolly Parton: “We’ve lost one of the greatest writers and singers of all time. His heart was as tender as his love ballads. I loved him like a brother. Rest easy, Merle.”
literally just fell to the floor. can’t believe we lost the hag. rip merle haggard— Dierks Bentley (@DierksBentley) 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
extremely sad to hear of the passing of one of the greatest of all time Mr. Merle Haggard... https://t.co/hmAlAdA8pl pic.twitter.com/s9VhxkXz57— Jason Aldean (@Jason_Aldean) April 6, 2016
“I am devastated over the loss of Merle Haggard. He was my absolute favorite of ALL time,” said Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys. “I have listened to him since I was a kid. His poetry, his voice and his pure country music style will live forever. I am listening to him sing Sweet Jesus with The Oak Ridge Boys as I write this. SO honored to have recorded this Dove Award winning song with my HERO! Rest Easy Hag… Until The Day…“Jesus… Sweet Jesus…You love me just as I am ... Jesus ... Sweet Jesus ... I’ve been washed in the Blood of the Lamb!”
From Kiefer Sutherland: “Merle Haggard was one of the greatest songwriters, performers and story-tellers that ever lived. I grew up on his music and am I’m so saddened by his passing.”
“Merle was a singer’s singer, a musician’s musician, and a songwriter’s songwriter. He set the feelings of the everyday common man to music, creating songs that will outlive us all. I feel privileged to have toured with him and known him as both a great artist and as a friend. His passing leaves a big hole in country music and in the hearts of the millions who loved him and his artistry,” said Bill Anderson, a.k.a “Whispering Bill.”
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
There will never be another artist like the Hag... Rest In Peace Merle Haggard— ChrisYoungMusic (@ChrisYoungMusic) April 6, 2016
Praynig for the family, friends & fans of @MerleHaggard. A legend! #GodBlessMerle #RIPMerle https://t.co/dmWu2V3U6h pic.twitter.com/uEgQAlZ4rj— Rodney Atkins (@RodneyAtkins) April 6, 2016
“Merle always treated me like a true friend treats his true friends. We had great fun every time we worked together,” said “Wine Into Water” singer T. Graham Brown. “He was one of the good ones. Getting to see God’s face on your birthday, what a wonderful gift!”
“One of the first things John [Rich] and I realized we had in common was our love of Haggard songs. What a blessing to have had a chance to get to know him and work with such a legend in our career. Merle, guess you finally are on the ultimate Natural High,” said “Big Kenny” Alphin of Big & Rich.
From Moe Bandy: “He’s my hero and I’ll never forget recording ‘Don’t Sing Me No Songs About Texas’ with Merle. To hear hear him on the same track as me was amazing. Merle was the master.”
You are a cornerstone of country music @merlehaggard...u will be missed greatly. Praying for the Haggard family. ¿¿¿¿— Hillary Scott (@HillaryScottLA) 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
Filmmaker Michael Moore posted a video of “the song he recorded for me for ‘Capitalism: A Love Story,’” noting that it was the musician’s birthday Wednesday.
Merle died today. He was a sweet man, a good soul. He didn’t trust authority or those who got rich off the suffering of others. Truly loved.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) April 6, 2016
The world will not be the same without @merlehaggard in it. Voice of reason, good man, true American artist. An original. RIP #MerleHaggard— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) April 6, 2016
rip @merlehaggard thank you for all the great music u blessed us with. we will play it forever— Billy Currington (@billycurrington) April 6, 2016
My heart is absolutely broken in two at the news of the loss of Merle Haggard. We keep losing all of the good ones. What a sad, sad day...— Jay DeMarcus (@JayDeMarcus) April 6, 2016
I have are request.... could all the Country Radio Stations please play Merle Haggard ...Thank you pic.twitter.com/IW5hvMVMz1— James Wesley (@jameswesley1) April 6, 2016
Merle HaggardYour name will be honored. Your music celebrated. Your legacy never forgotten. Country music will live on. I’ll be sure of it.— Granger Smith (@GrangerSmith) 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
Photo cred: Ben Haggard pic.twitter.com/kC8A7BCKMt— Sturgill Simpson (@SturgillSimpson) March 15, 2016
Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard - It’s All Going To PotIf you missed it before, here’s the video for me and Willie Nelson’s “It’s All Going To Pot.”Pre-order ‘Django and Jimmie’ on Amazon Music here: https://smarturl.it/wnmh_dj_amzn?IQid=fb.mhPosted by Merle Haggard on Monday, April 20, 2015
2:10 p.m.: This story was updated to include additional reactions. It was first published at 1:02 p.m.