Country Music Legend Merle Haggard Dies at 79

FILE - In this May 28, 2003 file photo, country music legend Merle Haggard smiles during a news conference at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington where he and his sister Lillian Haggard Hoge donated belongings taken on their family's Dust Bowl-era move from Oklahoma to California on Route 66. Haggard died of pneumonia, Wednesday, April 6, 2016, in Palo Cedro, Calif. He was 79. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

In this May 28, 2003 file photo, country music legend Merle Haggard smiles during a news conference at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

NASHVILLE, TN – Country giant Merle Haggard, who celebrated outlaws, underdogs and an abiding sense of national pride in such hits as “Okie From Muskogee” and “Sing Me Back Home,” died Wednesday at 79, on his birthday.

Haggard’s manager, Frank Mull, said the country icon died in Palo Cedro, California, of pneumonia.

A masterful guitarist, fiddler and songwriter as well as singer, the Country Music Hall of Famer recorded for more than 40 years, releasing dozens of albums and No. 1 hits.

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