A private funeral service will be held Saturday (April 9) in Palo Cedro, California, for country music legend Merle Haggard, according to The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.
The Country Music Hall of Fame member died Wednesday at age 79 after battling double pneumonia for several months. He had lived in Northern California for four decades.
The newspaper reports that Marty Stuart and his wife, Hall of Fame member Connie Smith, will be participating in the service.
“I found out yesterday that Merle had preplanned his own service,” Stuart told The Tennessean. “He requested that Connie sing ‘Precious Memories,’ that me and Connie sing his song, ‘Silver Wings,’ and that I officiate the service. We’re honored to do it.”
Stuart referred to two of Haggard’s albums — Same Train, A Different Time: Songs of Jimmie Rodgers (1969) and A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World: Or, My Salute to Bob Wills (1970) — as inspiration to pursue his own music career.
“He took the role of a professor and a champion of roots and country music,” Stuart said. “That inspired me to live an entire life like I’ve lived it. I still think it was one of the boldest, most unselfish moves he could have made. His mindset (when making) those two recordings, amidst all of his big hits, it charted my course for me. It became the North Star and it guided me along.”
Haggard participated in officially inducting Smith into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012 during the organization’s annual medallion ceremony in Nashville.