Ben Haggard Instagram
Merle’s manager confirmed that he passed away at 9:20 AM on April 6, 2016. The iconic country outlaw had been battling a case of double pneumonia since December, which prompted him to cancel many of his scheduled shows.
Through it all, Merle’s youngest son, Ben, had been open with fans about his father’s struggles, and had often turned to them for prayers. Ben shared his father’s passion for music, and played guitar in his band, The Strangers, for eight years.
Once the news broke of Merle’s death, Ben posted a heartbreaking photo to his Instagram with a message about his father’s final moments:
“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.”
The photo shows Ben holding his father’s hand, and the emotion behind the simple gesture is clear.
Ben is not only Merle’s son, but his biggest fan. He’s covered his father’s songs many times before, including one particularly emotional rendition of “Rainbow Song.” You can watch him sing the song in the video below.
Merle is so dearly missed, but his legacy will always live on.