Merle Haggard’s Funeral Will Be a Private Ceremony
Merle Haggard's funeral will be a private ceremony, but at least a couple of country artists will be in attendance.
The country icon's private funeral will take place in Palo Cedro, Calif., on Saturday (April 9), on Haggard's property, per the Bakersfield Californian. Pallbearers will include Haggard's son Ben and nephew Jim. According to Marty Stuart, Haggard pre-planned his own service, and requested the presence of Stuart and his wife, Connie Smith.
"He requested that Connie sing "Precious Memories," that me and Connie sing his song "Silver Wings,” and that I officiate the service," Stuart tells the Tennessean. "We’re honored to do it.”
Per the Californian, Haggard also requested that two recordings from Lefty Frizzell be played, and that his friends Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson each perform a song of their choosing. Haggard wishes to be cremated.
Smith, whom Haggard helped induct into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012, calls her and Stuart's involvement in Haggard's service "a privilege."
"He was a real friend," she adds, "and we loved him dearly."
Smith and Haggard knew each other for more than 40 years; she was the one to introduce him at his final Grand Ole Opry performance in the fall of 2015; his presence was a surprise.
"I just fell all over myself trying to introduce him because how do you introduce Merle Haggard?" Smith reflects. "Nothing you say will encompass his talent."
“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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