By Annie Reuter
Merle Haggard‘s life was remembered and celebrated on Saturday (April 9), with a private funeral service held on the country legend’s property in Palo Cedro, Calif. The small service included Haggard’s family, closest friends and musicians.
According to the Bakersfield Californian, the funeral was officiated by Marty Stuart and music was at the centerpiece of the ceremony. Lefty Frizzell’s “I Love You a Thousand Ways” was played at the beginning of the service while Connie Smith performed “Precious Memories.” Smith and Stuart later sang Haggard’s “Silver Wings” together.
Kris Kristofferson was also in attendance and played three songs including “For a Moment of Forever” and “Sing Me Back Home.” Kristofferson was joined by Willie Nelson‘s son, Micah, for a performance of “Pancho & Lefty” before Haggard’s sons Marty, Noel and Ben closed the funeral with “Today I Started Loving You Again.”
Haggard died last week (April 6), on his 79th birthday. His son, Ben, revealed in a heartfelt Facebook post that his father had predicted his death.
“A week ago dad told us he was gonna pass on his birthday, and he wasn’t wrong,” he wrote. “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.”