Merle Haggard's son shared a brief message on Facebook shortly after the death of his father, calling him "the best country singer that ever lived."

The legendary singer known for hits like "Okie From Muskogee" and "Mama Tried" died on his 79th birthday.

Ben Haggard wrote:

"A week ago dad told us he was gonna pass on his birthday, and he wasn't wrong. A hour ago he took his last breath surrounded by family and friends. He loved everything about life and he loved that everyone of you gave him a chance with his music. He wasn't just a country singer.. He was the best country singer that ever lived."

Merle Haggard's manager, Frank Mull, said the country icon died in Palo Cedro, California, of pneumonia that he had been battling for months. He had kept up an ambitious touring schedule, but the pneumonia in both lungs had forced him to cancel several shows this year.

Read more about Merle Haggard's life here, and the tributes pouring in here.


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