Merle Haggard Day in Tennessee Honors Late Country Music Icon on His Birthday and Death Anniversary

by Chris Haney

April 6th is a significant day for the friends, family, and fans of country music legend Merle Haggard. Not only is it the icon’s birthday, but Haggard passed away on the day in 2016 as well. Furthermore, to honor the late country music hero, the state of Tennessee officially proclaimed April 6 as Merle Haggard Day back in 2017.

A year after the musician’s death, 18,000 fans and a bevy of famous musicians piled into Nashville‘s Bridgestone Arena to celebrate the life and music of Merle Haggard. Tennessee politicians joined the festivities to announce the creation of Merle Haggard Day. Additionally, a tribute concert was taped called “Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard.”

The tribute show paid respects to Haggard on what would’ve been his 80th birthday that year. Some of music’s biggest stars performed renditions of Haggard’s songs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was joined by another country legend Willie Nelson for “Reasons to Quit.” In addition, Nelson joined Kenny Chesney for another duet he used to sing with Haggard – “Pancho and Lefty.”

ZZ Top guitarist and frontman Billy Gibbons and Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers Band fame transformed “Workin’ Man Blues” into a traditional blues song. Alison Krauss and Jamey Johnson paired up for “If I Could Only Fly.” Miranda Lambert sang crowd favorite “Misery and Gin,” while Tanya Tucker sang the ballad “The Farmer’s Daughter.” It was a star-studded evening to say the least.

Haggard’s wife, Theresa Ann Lane, and other family members also attended the special event. She addressed the crowd at center stage to thank everyone, and called the occasion a “monumental moment,” according to a Tennessean article.

“This has been a monumental moment,” Theresa said as the fans gave the musicians a standing ovation. “I know Haggard’s here right now.”

Merle Haggard’s Widow Shares Touching Message on His Birthday

Earlier today, Theresa penned a heartfelt message to her late husband, which she shared on Instagram. She also posted two photos; one a candid picture of Haggard at home with a grey sweatshirt on, and another of him in concert.

As she wrote, not many people are born and also die on the same day like Merle Haggard. According to Theresa, “he called it,” and had a premonition about his passing. She also knows how much the country music icon meant to so many.

“I know he is missed by so many people throughout the world. His music touched many hearts and continues to do so every day,” she wrote of Haggard and his lasting legacy.

His wife reminded everyone that April 6 is Merle Haggard Day in Tennessee. However, Theresa thinks it should be a national holiday, not just a state-acknowledged one. She called him the “greatest honky-tonk singer of all times” and admitted his life wasn’t always easy. But his experiences are what shaped the man who became one of country music’s greatest musicians.

Haggard’s widow had one last request during her birthday message. She asked everyone to play their favorite Merle Haggard song. Theresa assured his fans that the thought would leave a smile on his face from above.

“So take a moment out of this day, Merle Haggard Day, and play your favorite song. Reach out and request from your local stations. And if he’s listening somewhere maybe he can hear us where he’s at. I’m sure he’ll get a smile on his face,” she concluded.