Merle Haggard predicted he would die on his birthday, his son says.
The country music icon died on Wednesday
morning at his home near Redding, California. It was the same day as his 79th birthday, and his youngest son, Ben Haggard, reveals that Merle knew it would happen this way.
"A week ago dad told us he was gonna pass on his birthday, and he wasn't wrong," Ben writes. "A hour ago he took his last breath surrounded by family and friends."
Ben, who is an aspiring country singer himself and played lead guitar in Merle's band, The Strangers, adds, "He loved everything about life and he loved that every one of you gave him a chance with his music. He wasn't just a country singer. He was the best country singer that ever lived."
A sentiment echoed by another country music icon, Dolly Parton, who said, "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."
Over the weekend, ET chatted with Miranda Lambert backstage at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, where she revealed two country artists on her "dream collaboration" bucket list -- Dolly and Merle.
Hear more in the video below.