Musician Merle Haggard dies on his 79th Birthday

US country musician Merle Haggard died on Wednesday, his 79th birthday.

He had canceled all his concerts for the month of April due to illness.

The country legend emerged from prison to become the poetic voice of the working man with hits such as "Okie From Muskogee", an anti-hippie song embraced by conservatives in 1970.

Haggard's songs have traditional country music themes of drinking and heartache, but he also infused them with more insight and tenderness.

In addition to country, he also touched on folk, pop, jazz, blues and rock, broadening the genre with lines on poverty, loneliness and social issues.

Haggard once said he preferred playing guitar to singing but his voice made him stand out.

In 1994, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1997, he was elected to the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

Haggard had six children from his five marriages. His son Ben performed with him as lead guitarist.

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