After Merle Haggard was diagnosed with double pneumonia in December of last year, he was forced to cancel the shows he had scheduled for the rest of the month. Once he felt he was on the mend, he came back and performed a few shows, but occasionally canceled more to take time to recover.
In February, Haggard's publicist said he wouldn't perform any shows that month, but Haggard was determined to go through with his February 6th show at the Mandalay Bay Ballroom in Las Vegas. Although Haggard appeared frail and out of breath, no one ever expected that February 6th concert would be one of his final shows.
Following Haggard's death on April 6, two months to the date of his Vegas performance, stories started flooding in about the last few months of his life. One particularly touching story came from actor W. Earl Brown, who was at Haggard's Vegas show and witnessed something amazing in the process.
It turns out another major country star was in attendance at the concert that day...Haggard's longtime friend Toby Keith. In a post Brown shared on Facebook, he said that Keith stepped up and stood by Haggard's side to help him through his Vegas show when he was running out of steam.
In an interview with a local Oklahoma news station following Haggard's death, Keith opened up about helping his friend through the time he needed him most:
"He looked really frail, and I walked him on the stage and said 'I'll be over here. You call me up whenever you need me.' He made it about eight songs, and he called me up and said, 'Let's do something.'"
Once Keith learned about Haggard's death, he took to Twitter to share a heartfelt message in his honor, writing, "The greatest singer songwriter of my lifetime is gone. Thanks for the music and friendship. R.I.P. Hag."
You watch Keith's full interview below, along with a clip of Haggard and Keith performing "Okie From Muskogee" during the February 6 show in Vegas.
We still can't believe that Haggard is really gone. Our prayers go out to all of his family and friends during this tough time.
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