The ACM Awards gave Merle Haggard a birthday he'll never forget. The former Entertainer of the Year and legendary hitmaker received the Crystal Milestone Award, which signifies outstanding achievement in the music industry.

Some of country music's biggest stars were on hand to pay homage to Haggard, starting with Garth Brooks, who introduced the tribute segment. "Growing up, my dad's favorite artist quickly became my favorite artist," Brooks said, explaining how he became a Haggard fan early in his life. Brooks called Haggard a "one-of-a-kind creative force."

After George Strait and Miranda Lambert followed with a medley of 'Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down' and Haggard's first No. 1 hit, 'I'm a Lonesome Fugitive,' the 77-year-old singer took the stage while the crowd serenaded him with 'Happy Birthday.'

He kept his speech short and to the point, telling the audience, "Country music's been great to me all my life, and it's great again tonight. Thanks everybody for their participation in one of my most eventful evenings. Thank you."

Haggard won Male Vocalist of the Year six times, more than anyone in ACM history. In 1971, he won the academy's first-ever Entertainer of the Year award.