Toby Keith Salutes Merle Haggard at 2016 ACCAs [Watch]
The ACCAs chose the perfect singer to honor Merle Haggard. Toby Keith performed a seven-song tribute to the legend, punctuating his performance by calling out "one more for the Hag" and launching into "The Fightin' Side of Me."
With Haggard's wife Theresa in the audience and his son Ben on stage with Keith, the country superstar riffed through "Mama Tried," “Today I Started Loving You Again” and “I’ll Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.” The no-frills dedication honored a man who was himself no-frills. A few tears were shed, but for the most part it was a celebratory moment at the second American Country Countdown Awards.
Theresa Haggard joined stars like Michael Ray in standing to dance and sing along to Keith as he went into “Workin’ Man Blues,” “Silver Wings” and “Okie From Muskogee.” It would have been quite easy to load the stage with all of the adoring artists (many were in attendance), but instead they relied on one of country's most reliable hitmakers of the last 25 years to do the job. Keith seemed honored, but not overwhelmed by the task.
Haggard died on his birthday (April 6) at the age of 79. He had been ill for several months, and had been forced to cancel nearly every show in 2016. At one of his final performances, he asked Keith to take the mic when he couldn't go on.
See Merle Haggard Through the Years
Merle Haggard Dead at 79