Marty Stuart to Officiate Merle Haggard’s Funeral
Country legends Marty Stuart and Connie Smith will help friends and family say goodbye to Merle Haggard this weekend. Haggard’s funeral is set for Saturday (April 9) in Palo Cedro, Calif.
It will be a private memorial for Haggard. Stuart told the Tennessean that the "Mama Tried" singer pre-planned his own service. "He requested that Connie sing ‘Precious Memories,’ that me and Connie sing his song 'Silver Wings,' and that I officiate the service,” he says. "We’re honored to do it."
Additionally, the Bakersfield Californian reports that Haggard invited Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson to attend and sing a song of their choosing. Youngest son Ben and nephew Jim are among the pallbearers, although Haggard said he wished to be cremated.
Both have always been very close to Haggard, a country pioneer who died on Wednesday at age 79. Haggard helped induct Smith into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Stuart always appreciated Haggard’s influence on modern, traditional and roots country music.
There is no word of any sort of public memorial in Haggard’s home state of California or in Nashville. The Country Hall of Famer died on his 79th birthday, not long after entering hospice but several months after health issues began forcing him to cancel shows. In December he was hospitalized with pneumonia and would later admit he nearly died at that time. A few days before his death Haggard canceled all of his April tour dates, but gave no indication of how grim the circumstances had become.
Haggard’s son Ben said his father predicted the day of his death one week before he died on April 6. Since then, dozens — if not hundreds — of country stars have taken to social media to talk about his influence. George Strait's message and Willie Nelson's photo were particularly poignant.
More Photos of Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard Dead at 79