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Country performers pay homage to The Hag

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 – Willie Nelson epitomized the feeling from the country community on Wednesday about the loss of the Merle Haggard, who died earlier in the day at 79 following complications from pneumonia.

"He was my brother, my friend. I will miss him," said Nelson in a post on his web site. Nelson had a long association with The Hag, recording the recent CD "Django and Jimmie" together.

The reaction was immediate from many of today's performers. Eric Church recorded a song called "Pledge Allegiance to the Hag." Church posted lyrics to the song on his Facebook page: "They say country's fading / But just keep waving that flag around here / And I know it'll keep on coming back As long as people pledge allegiance / Where folks still pledge allegiance /I pledge allegiance to the Hag" followed by "Rest in peace."

Church typically performs the song in concert.

Hank Williams Jr. said in a statement, "Merle Haggard was an original. Not just a singer, not just a songwriter, not just another famous performer. 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."

Nancy Jones, widow of George, said, "George and I loved Merle so much. George would always say nobody could ever sing like Merle Haggard. Merle was one of our Country Heroes. Now, George and Merle are together again singing with the Angel Band."

Toby Keith posted on his Facebook page, "The greatest singer songwriter of my lifetime is gone. Thanks for the music and friendship. R.I.P. Hag."

Dwight Yoakam, who shared the Bakersfield Sound with which Haggard was a key player, said on his Facebook page, "Nothing to say... just listen... " He posted a video of Haggard singing "Silver Wings" on his page.

Gary Allan said, "Merle was my all-time hero. Today we lost one of the greatest songwriters of country music and I will always regret not recording with him. He was a legend and I was honored whenever we got the chance to share a stage with him. Thank you for the inspiration, the advice and for always being you. I, as well as the entire music community, will miss you Merle."

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