During his appearance at the Grand Ole Opry over the weekend, Eric Church paid tribute to his late friend and musical inspiration Merle Haggard.
The “Record Year” singer has been vocal about his love for the late country legend since the very beginning of his career. Haggard even appeared on Church’s track “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag,” which was featured on his 2006 debut album Sinners Like Me.
The loss of his hero was still fresh in his mind when he took the Grand Ole Opry stage on April 9, just three days after Haggard’s passing. Instead of choosing to play a set of his own hit songs, he took the stage and performed a memorable rendition of the Hag’s 1979 track “Footlights,” much to the crowd’s delight. He flawlessly slid into another of the legend’s tracks, “The Way I Am,” before closing things out with the aforementioned “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag.”
There are few artists that can convey both a sense of strength and the emotion of loss as well as Church, who put everything he had into the heartfelt medley. It was a moment that neither the audience nor Church is likely to forget anytime soon, as we all continue to mourn the loss of one of country music’s greatest artists.
Click below to watch Eric Church pay tribute to Merle Haggard at the Grand Ole Opry.