Toby Keith remembers Outlaw Country legend Merle Haggard on the anniversary of the musician’s death by sharing a heartwarming photo of the two. For Keith, Haggard was both an idol and also a friend. The “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” singer looked up to Haggard as he was trying to make it in the country music biz.
In the photo, Keith shares a throwback to happier times. Both singers were all smiles as they posed for the camera together. Keith wore his trademark cowboy hat. And Haggard donned his black fedora. Haggard made quite the splash when he first hit the country music scene. The country singer passed away on this day, April 6, back in 2016.
In 2016, Keith was one of several artists to honor Haggard and his legacy. A couple of months after the icon’s death, Keith performed a tribute concert where else but the Grand Ole Opry. As part of the performance, Keith dusted off several of Haggard’s greatest hits in a display of emotion. The country singer traded in his usual bravado and ego for a tender ode to the legend. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Some of the songs that Keith performed included Haggard mainstays like “Mama Tried”, “Today I Started Loving You Again”, “Silver Wings”, and “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.”
Toby Keith and Merle Haggard Perform One Last Time
Toby Keith was there a few months before Haggard died as well. In fact, he helped save one of Haggard’s final concerts when the singer became too sick to perform. The Outlaw legend was struggling with breathing difficulties due to advanced pneumonia. But the show must go on, and so he took to the stage rather than seek medical attention.
“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.’”
Haggard’s health faltered, and the country singer couldn’t finish his act. That’s when he invited Keith on stage to help him at the Mandalay Bay Ballroom in Las Vegas. It was one of the last times that Keith ever saw Haggard.
“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.”