Toby Keith to Pay Tribute to Merle Haggard at American Country Countdown Awards
Performing with Keith will be Haggard's longtime backing band, the Strangers, which includes the legend's son, Ben. Haggard's widow, Theresa, will be in attendance along with other members of the Haggard family.
The ACC Awards will air live from the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Sunday, May 1, on Fox. Actor Matthew McConaughey will introduce the tribute.
Keith was one of the last artists to share the stage with Haggard. As he recently explained in an interview with News Channel 4 in Oklahoma, the legend was not in good health.
“He looked really frail, and I walked him on the stage and said ‘I’ll be over here. You call me up whenever you need me.’ He made it about eight songs, and he called me up and said, ‘Let’s do something,'” Keith says.
On Feb. 6 at the Mandalay Bay Ballroom in Las Vegas, actor and musician W. Earl Brown shared how Keith saved the day for the country icon that night.
“Merle had to pay his band and crew, so there was no calling in sick for this gig,” he recalled on Facebook. “Toby got word that Merle was in Vegas, so he went to see him … Merle was in bad shape. He needed to be in a hospital – not on a stage; but The Show Must Go On. Merle would not take charity from anyone, but he did turn to Toby and say, ‘How many songs of mine do you know?’”
Keith then finished Haggard’s set after the legend performed his eight songs.
Country Stars Remember Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard Dead at 79