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Reaction to Merle Haggard's death: 'No wonder it's raining today. Even God is crying'

After Merle Haggard passed away Wednesday at home in Palo Cedro, Calif., country music was pouring its heart out over word of the Golden State native's death from pneumonia at 79.

"He was my brother, my friend. I will miss him," Willie Nelson said in a statement. Haggard had been scheduled to join Nelson on tour for four shows in May, in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, and the two had fun last year doing a video — see it below — for their tune "It's All Going to Pot."

"The greatest singer songwriter of my lifetime is gone," Toby Keith said in a statement. "Thanks for the music and friendship. R.I.P. Hag."

It was raining in Nashville, where the Grand Ole Opry tweeted: "Country music lost an icon today. Our hearts and prayers are with the Haggard family."

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FOR THE RECORD:

2:56 p.m.: An earlier version of this article said Haggard died at home in North Carolina. Haggard, who was born in Oildale, near Bakersfield, passed away in his home state of California.

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And Jake Owen, who has said he grew up listening to Haggard, tied it all together.

"Nobody ever sang a song with the heart and emotion that @merlehaggard did," Owen said. "No wonder it's raining today. Even God is crying."

And the statements kept flowing through the afternoon:

"He was your common everyday working man. I remember when I was 15 years old on tour with Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. They both were wondering which one of the two was going to make it. Well, they both made it. Today, ole Merle joined Waylon, George, and daddy to sing in the Heavenly choir," said Hank Williams Jr.

"We’ve lost another hero," said Tanya Tucker. "Now he doesn’t have to be in pain anymore. I know he’s not suffering anymore. I just can’t imagine a world without Merle. It’s so hard to accept, but I’ll continue honoring him on stage just as I do during every show. We played a lot of gigs together through the years, but some of my fondest memories were hanging out in a natural setting, like the time we sat there by the river in his backyard and ate bologna sandwiches. Merle was a simple man with incredible talent like no other. And now he’s up there singing with George [Jones] and all the angels. Love you, Merle."

From Dolly Parton: "We've lost one of the greatest writers and singers of all time. His heart was as tender as his love ballads. I loved him like a brother. Rest easy, Merle."

"I am devastated over the loss of Merle Haggard. He was my absolute favorite of ALL time," said Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys. "I have listened to him since I was a kid. His poetry, his voice and his pure country music style will live forever. I am listening to him sing Sweet Jesus with The Oak Ridge Boys as I write this. SO honored to have recorded this Dove Award winning song with my HERO! Rest Easy Hag… Until The Day…“Jesus… Sweet Jesus…You love me just as I am ... Jesus ... Sweet Jesus ... I've been washed in the Blood of the Lamb!"

From Kiefer Sutherland: "Merle Haggard was one of the greatest songwriters, performers and story-tellers that ever lived. I grew up on his music and am I'm so saddened by his passing."

"Merle was a singer's singer, a musician's musician, and a songwriter's songwriter. He set the feelings of the everyday common man to music, creating songs that will outlive us all. I feel privileged to have toured with him and known him as both a great artist and as a friend. His passing leaves a big hole in country music and in the hearts of the millions who loved him and his artistry," said Bill Anderson, a.k.a "Whispering Bill."

"Merle always treated me like a true friend treats his true friends. We had great fun every time we worked together," said "Wine Into Water" singer T. Graham Brown. "He was one of the good ones. Getting to see God's face on your birthday, what a wonderful gift!"

"One of the first things John [Rich] and I realized we had in common was our love of Haggard songs. What a blessing to have had a chance to get to know him and work with such a legend in our career. Merle, guess you finally are on the ultimate Natural High," said "Big Kenny" Alphin of Big & Rich.

From Moe Bandy: "He’s my hero and I’ll never forget recording ‘Don’t Sing Me No Songs About Texas’ with Merle. To hear hear him on the same track as me was amazing. Merle was the master."

Filmmaker Michael Moore posted a video of "the song he recorded for me for 'Capitalism: A Love Story,'" noting that it was the musician's birthday Wednesday.

Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard - It's All Going To Pot

If you missed it before, here’s the video for me and Willie Nelson’s “It’s All Going To Pot.”Pre-order 'Django and Jimmie' on Amazon Music here: http://smarturl.it/wnmh_dj_amzn?IQid=fb.mh

Posted by Merle Haggard on Monday, April 20, 2015

 

Follow Christie D'Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ. Follow the Ministry of Gossip @LATcelebs.

MORE:

Merle Haggard dies at 79; prolific country music outlaw brought the Bakersfield sound

Merle Haggard: Life in pictures

Merle Haggard performances 

Merle Haggard's country classics capture the common man with uncommon grace

UPDATED:

2:10 p.m.: This story was updated to include additional reactions. It was first published at 1:02 p.m.

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