The death of Merle Haggard on April 6, 2016 hit every country fan hard and country superstar Vince Gill was no exception. On that day, Gill sat down to write a song about what Haggard meant to him and how the legendary singer and songwriter shaped his own musical path.
"A World Without Haggard" is the latest release from Gill's forthcoming album Okie, which finds Gill reclaiming the once derogatory term used to insult migrants from the Sooner State.
"He made me proud to be an Okie/Lord knows we paid our dues," Gill sings. "He was my greatest inspiration/The reason why I sang the blues."
Read More: The 15 Best Vince Gill Songs, Ranked
"I wrote this song the same day that I woke up and found out he had passed away--that night on his birthday," Gill said in a press release. "When someone asks, 'Who is your favorite artist?' I always say Merle Haggard. When somebody says 'can you define country music?' I say 'play Mama Tried.'"
In a statement, Gill reflected on his friendship with Haggard and his experience working with his idol.
"We got to be pretty good friends over the last few years of his life, and I got to sing on the last project he was working on at the time of his death," Gill said. "So to get to sing with him finally was easily one of the greatest thrills of my life."
Okie will be released on Aug. 23. On August 7, Gill kicked off his latest tour, which stretches until November.
Vince Gill Tour Dates:
August 14 -- Davenport, IA -- Adler Theatre
August 15 -- Kansas City, MO -- Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland
August 16 -- Thackerville, OK -- WinStar World Casino
August 17 -- Tulsa, OK -- Paradise Cove Margaritaville
August 21 -- Interlochen, MI -- Kresge Auditorium
August 22 -- Ft. Wayne, IN -- Foellinger Theatre
August 23 -- Huber Heights, OH -- Rose Music Center at the Heights
August 24 -- Nashville, IN -- Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center
September 12 -- Chicago, IL -- The Chicago Theatre
September 13 --Minneapolis, MN -- Orpheum Theatre
September 14 -- Milwaukee, WI -- The Riverside Theatre
September 15 -- Columbus, OH -- Palace Theatre
September 21 -- Dallas, TX -- Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival
October 9 -- Lancaster, PA -- American Music Theatre
October 10 -- Portland, ME -- Merrill Auditorium
October 11 -- Providence, RI -- The VETS
October 12 -- Baltimore, MD -- The Lyric Opera House
October 17 -- Springfield, MO -- Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts
October 18 -- Ames, IA -- Stephens Auditorium
October 19 -- Green Bay, WI -- Weidner Center for the Performing Arts
October 20 -- Springfield, IL -- Sangamon Auditorium
October 24 -- Louisville, KY -- Palace Theatre
October 25 -- Toledo, OH -- Stranahan Theater
October 26 -- Erie, PA -- Warner Theatre
October 27 -- Rochester, NY -- Kodak Center for Performing Arts
November 1 -- Pittsburgh, PA -- Heinz Hall
November 2 -- Morristown, NJ -- Mayo Performing Arts Center
November 3 -- Concord, NH -- Capitol Center for the Arts
Now Watch: Remembering Merle Haggard
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