Toby Keith stepped in for his good friend, Merle Haggard, during one of his last performances ever, so it’s only fitting that he be the one to honor The Hag at the first awards ceremony following his April 6th death.
The American Country Countdown Awards will air live on Sunday, May 1 on FOX and will be the first time a country music awards show will be held in Los Angeles in over 10 years.
Dick Clark Productions announced on Thursday (April 21) that Keith will be performing a tribute to the legendary singer. They also revealed Keith will be playing with Haggard’s backing band, The Strangers, which includes Haggard’s youngest son, Ben, on lead guitar. Haggard’s widow, Theresa, along with other members of the Haggard family will be in attendance.
On February 6th, Haggard played one of his last shows ever and Keith just so happened to be in the same city. Haggard looked frail, so Keith let him know that he’d help him out anyway he could.
“I walked him on the stage and said ‘I’ll be over here. You call me up whenever you need me.'” he told a local Oklahoma news station. “He made it about eight songs, and he called me up and said, ‘Let’s do something.'”
We’re sure the tribute will be beautiful and Haggard will be there in spirit.
Watch Haggard and Keith perform “Sing Me Back Home” from that February 6th show below.