The country music industry really misses the “Okie from Muskogee” and his timeless music that has served as an inspiration to many. In case you still don’t know who we are talking about, it’s the great country legend, Merle Haggard. But, who would ever forget him and his music? When the country legend passed away, the county music community expressed its deep longing. One of the many artists who got struck by this loss is Toby Keith. Aside from being an “Okie” himself, Keith shared a close friendship with Haggard. Also, the two artists have shared immense talent and are both true to themselves.
Keith & Haggard’s Friendship
Going back to the time before Haggard’s passing, Keith attended one of Haggard’s shows in Las Vegas. “The Hag” personally invited the fellow country artist to help him put up an amazing show. With him battling pneumonia for months, Haggard felt so tired and offered Keith the stage to sing his songs and finish the show.
Keith, on the other hand, did not just know some of “The Hag’s” songs. He knew all of them very well. Hence, he told Haggard that he did not even need a teleprompter to get through with the performance. Setting foot on stage with much confidence, Keith managed to save the show. More importantly, he proved that indeed, he is a longtime fan of the great country music icon.
In an interview with the Grand Ole Opry staff, Keith shared his friendship and admiration for Haggard. He said:
“He had the look, he had the voice, he had the name, he was a songwriter and a great guitar player. He was just the consummate singer-songwriter.”
In return, the Opry asked him if he could render six or eight of Haggard’s songs during a tribute show in honor of the country artist. Keith gladly responded. However, he struggled to choose the songs he wants to sing for Haggard.
In the end, he eventually picked two of Merle Haggard’s bests, “Mama Tried” and “Silver Wings.” Emotionally singing the songs, Keith exuded true artistry. And, it is very evident that Haggard had a significant influence on him.
Check out Toby Keith singing a medley of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and “Silver Wings:”