Country legend Merle Haggard was laid to rest during a music-filled ceremony in California over the weekend.
On April 9, friends and family gathered on Haggard’s private property in Palo Cedro, Calif. to remember the acclaimed singer and songwriter. The funeral, which was pre-planned by Haggard himself, was officiated by longtime friend Marty Stuart and featured performances from many of his closest collaborators and cohorts.
According to Rolling Stone, the ceremony began with a studio recording of Lefty Frizzell’s “I Love You a Thousand Ways,” a favorite of Haggard’s. The Bakersfield Californian reports that Kris Kristofferson performed “For a Moment of Forever,” “Sing Me Back Home” and was joined by Willie Nelson’s son Micah for a rendition of “Pancho & Lefty.” Stuart and his wife Connie Smith also performed a duet version of “Silver Wings,” while Haggard’s three sons Marty, Noel and Ben ended the ceremony with a rendition of “Today I Started Loving You Again.”
Merle Haggard passed away from pneumonia on April 6, his 79th birthday. Just hours after his passing, Haggard’s son Ben shared a photo taken from his father’s bedside with the following statement. “He loved everything about life, and he loved that every one of you gave him a chance with his music,” he said. “He wasn’t just a country singer… he was the best country singer that ever lived.”