Merle Haggard Remembered in Song at Private Funeral
Merle Haggard's private funeral service on Saturday (April 9) was, appropriately, full of music. Both family and dear friends remembered the country legend through songs during the ceremony, held on Haggard's property in Palo Cedro, Calif.
Officiated by Marty Stuart, Haggard's funeral was pre-planned by the artist himself. As requested, a recording of Lefty Frizzell's "I Love You a Thousand Ways" played to begin the service, while Connie Smith performed "Precious Memories," and Smith and Stuart (who are husband and wife) sang Haggard's own "Silver Wings."
Additionally, the Bakersfield Californian reports, Kris Kristofferson played three songs: "For a Moment of Forever," "Sing Me Back Home" and "Pancho & Lefty;" he was joined on the latter by Willie Nelson's son Micah. Ronnie Reno, a former member of Haggard's band the Strangers, performed "Life's Railway to Heaven," and Haggard's sons Marty, Noel and Ben ended the funeral with "Today I Started Loving You Again."
According to the Californian, guests at Haggard's service included surviving original Strangers Fuzzy Owen (manager, bus driver and steel guitarist), Don Markham (trumpet and saxophone player), Biff Adam (drummer) and Norm Hamlet (steel player). Also acknowledged were Roy Nichols (guitarist) and Bonnie Owens (singer), both deceased.
“He loved everything about life, and he loved that every one of you gave him a chance with his music,” his son Ben writes. “He wasn’t just a country singer … He was the best country singer that ever lived.”
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