HomeEntertainmentMusicCountry Throwback: Toby Keith Gets Choked Up Singing Merle Haggard Medley Months After His Death in 2016

Country Throwback: Toby Keith Gets Choked Up Singing Merle Haggard Medley Months After His Death in 2016

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Rick Diamond/WireImage for BMI Nashville/Getty Images

All of country music mourned when Merle Haggard passed away in 2016. The country singer often voiced the struggles and experiences of the everyday working man. Haggard had many fans, but Toby Keith may be one of his biggest.

A few months after his death, Keith paid tribute to the country legend with a performance at the Grand Ole Opry. Keith gathered some of Haggard’s greatest hits and played them in a teary-eyed fashion. Keith made a career on a cocky, care-free attitude. But on that night, he broke everybody’s hearts.

Keith performed several of Haggard’s hit songs such as “Mama Tried”, “Today I Started Loving You Again”, “Silver Wings”, and “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.” Haggard would surely be proud that Keith honored him and his life in such a moving fashion.

Toby Keith Performed with Merle Haggard

Toby Keith and Merle Haggard weren’t strangers before his death. The two artists had performed together several times, including a rousing rendition of “The Fightin’ Side of Me.”

Keith considered Haggard to be one of his country music idols. In fact, he had seen Haggard shortly before his death and helped him perform one of his final shows. In those days, Haggard experienced pneumonia and lung problems. But he went to the stage rather than to the hospital. Because Haggard was a showman up until his last.

But he needed help from Keith to finish his set at the Mandalay Bay Ballroom in Las Vegas.

“He looked really frail, and I walked him on the stage and said, ‘I’ll be over here. You call me up whenever you need me,'” Keith said, via Billboard. “He made it about eight songs, and he called me up and said, ‘Let’s do something.'”

Reflecting on Haggard, Keith considered him his personal hero.

“He’s the biggest ever. He never did stray off the beaten path, he stayed exactly with what he did,” Toby Keith said. “He never quit writing the same style of songs, he was my idol.”