Merle Haggard Sings ‘I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink’ in Final Opry Performance
The performance took place just two months before Haggard would begin the spiral into a series of health struggles that would result in his death. The Country Music Hall of Famer passed away on April 6, 2016 — ironically, also the date of his 79th birthday.
The performance date was also just eight days before the 35th anniversary of the song's release on Oct. 25, 1980. After a career that had already lasted decades at that point, Haggard enjoyed a massive resurgence in the 1980s due to the chart-topping success of "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink," along with other later hits including "Leonard," "Big City," "Are the Good Times Really Over" and "Pancho and Lefty," a duet with Willie Nelson.
Interestingly, though Haggard performed at the iconic venue, he was never inducted into the Grand Ole Opry as a full member. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994.
Haggard continued to record and tour until very near the end of his life, releasing a duets album with Nelson, Django and Jimmie, in 2015. The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, and the longtime friends were reportedly planning a follow-up.
Haggard canceled tour dates in December of 2015 due to a bout with double pneumonia. He canceled shows scheduled for Jan. 30 and 31 after his double pneumonia returned. At the end of March, the legend announced he was canceling all of his scheduled shows for April on doctor’s orders, though he hoped to return to the road. He will be remembered as one of the most important and influential country artists not just of his generation, but of all time.
Take a look at his final Opry performance in the clip above.
Merle Haggard Dead at 79
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