Merle Haggard’s Final Show Well Worth Reading
Merle Haggard Exited The Stage With His Dignity Intact
It was Super Bowl weekend. Merle had already cancelled months of shows, but this particular booking was a big payday. Merle had to pay his band and crew, so there was no calling in sick for this gig. Toby Keith was in town with his wife to watch some football and have some fun. 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?” “All of ’em” answered Toby. “All of ’em?” “Yep. And I won’t need a teleprompter.” “Well, stay nearby.”
After four or five songs, Merle’s infected lungs were spent. He couldn’t draw enough air to sing any longer. “We’ve, uh, we’ve got a special guest here tonight…” Toby came out and sang the rest of the show. Merle gave his last concert. The Strangers got paid. And the audience, while not realizing it at the time, saw something special. Never speak ill of Toby Keith to me; thanks to him, Merle Haggard exited the stage with his dignity intact.
– From W Earl Brown with Mona Thomas Brooks and Lee Marcus.Facebook