Bay Area musicians mourn death of country music icon Merle Haggard

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Musicians around the Bay Area are mourning the death of country music star Merle Haggard, who passed away in Shasta County Wednesday on what would have been his 79th birthday. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

A legend has been lost. On Wednesday, country music star Merle Haggard passed away in Shasta County on his 79th birthday.

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Whether you're old enough to remember Haggard on vinyl. Or you're a young up-and-coming country music singer covering Haggard's "Silver Wings." You know the music world has lost a treasure.

"He wasn't just a star," said country singer Josh Abbott. "He wasn't just a guy that had a number one single. He was a true legend."

Abbott performs Wednesday night and says Haggard was a huge influence

"He may not be here with us anymore, but his songs will live on forever," he said.

David "Smelly" Kelley is the lead singer of the local country and western group Red Meat. They cover a lot of Haggard's music.

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"Every show that I ever saw of him, he just delivered the goods," he said.

Former San Francisco Giants baseball star and musician Tim Flannery got to open for Haggard at a gig in Arizona.

"He wrote the songs, but it almost seemed like he lived them as well," he said. "And the pain when he would sing them, you could feel it in your body."

Haggard was born in Kern County in 1937. He was a star of the Bakersfield sound, and a writer of ironic songs that may or may not reflect his point of view. The most famous of them was "Okie From Muskogie."

One more bit of irony -- Haggard died on his 79th birthday.
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