The American Country Countdown Awards were filled with amazing performances and appearances by some of our favorite country stars. The show, which aired May 1, was sure to honor the legend of Merle Haggard who sadly passed away on April 6 of this year.
The show’s finale was one of the best moments of the night, as it brought several special people together who loved Merle Haggard to perform in his honor. Matthew McConaughey introduced the performers after giving a lovely speech about Haggard and what he meant to all musicians.
“You see, Merle was an outlaw, before the outlaws, and a hero to all of country’s finest,” McConaughey says before introducing Toby Keith, Ben Haggard and Merle Haggard’s band, the Strangers to the stage.
With Haggard’s youngest son, Ben, on the guitar, Keith sang a medley of Haggard songs. Keith and the Strangers performed “Mama Tried,” “Today I Started Loving You Again,” “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” “Workin’ Man Blues,” “Silver Wings” and “Okie From Muskogee.”
Keith and Haggard had a close friendship and worked together multiple times. In fact, Keith gave a performance at one of Haggard’s last shows.
Haggard’s wife, Theresa, sat in the audience and Ben honored his father by playing a guitar engraved with his signature.