Connie Smith and Marty Stuart to Lead Private Saturday Service for Merle Haggard

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The Poet of the Common Man, legendary country singer Merle Haggard, will be remembered Saturday in Palo Cedro, California, in a private memorial service led by Marty Stuart and Connie Smith.

“Merle had preplanned his own service,” Stuart told The Tennessean. “He requested that Connie sing ‘Precious Memories,’ that me and Connie sing his song ‘Silver Wings,’ and that I officiate the service. We’re honored to do it.”

“It’s a privilege,” Smith remarks on being chosen by her fellow member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. “He was a real friend and we loved him dearly.” When Connie was inducted into the Hall in 2012, it was Merle who put the coveted medallion around her neck to signify her membership.

Haggard passed away Wednesday, after a recurring case of double pneumonia. He was 79.

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