SiriusXM is sad report that we’ve learned of the loss of a true icon of country music and close friend of Outlaw Country and Willie’s Roadhouse. “The Poet of the Common Man” and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Merle Haggard, has passed away on his birthday, at the age of 79. More information is forthcoming.

After honing his craft in the California honky tonks, Haggard helped forge the famous “Bakersfield Sound” that stormed the airwaves and jukeboxes of the 1960s with a string of signature songs like Mama Tried, Swinging Doors and The Bottle Let Me Down.

By the end of the decade, his songs Okie from Muskogee and The Fightin’ Side of Me became anthems of the Vietnam era’s “silent majority,” but instead of pandering to expectations, he went back to his country roots and recorded tributes to his musical heroes Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills.

Over five decades of recordings, he scored an amazing 38 No. 1 hits to go along with Grammys, ACMS and CMA awards membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and the Kennedy Center Honors as a songwriter, vocalist, bandleader, and performing artist.

Last December, Merle Haggard was forced to postpone a string of concert dates after being hospitalized for double pneumonia. He called into the Dallas Wayne show on Willie’s Roadhouse (Ch. 59) to give an update on his condition and thank his fans, the people who helped care for him and said that he really appreciates all Willie Nelson and Willie’s Roadhouse does to support his music.

Merle Haggard stands in a class by himself and has left a permanent mark on America’s music landscape.

Willie’s Roadhouse host Dallas Wayne is mourning the loss and celebrating the life of our dear friend today, along with fans and fellow musicians. Dial 877-3-WILLIE to share your memories.

Rest in peace.

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