On April 6, 1937, future country music icon Merle Haggard was born in Oildale, California. Exactly 79 years later, on April 6, 2016, Merle passed away in Palo Cedro, California.
Following his death, Merle’s youngest son, Ben, took to Instagram to share his father’s final moments. In his post, he wrote that Merle told them all he was going to pass away on his birthday, “and he wasn’t wrong.”
It was well-known that Haggard passed away after battling pneumonia for several months prior to his death. But there’s one detail about his death that, although it was publicized, was barely know. Until now.
On Friday, Ben’s longtime girlfriend Jeyda Beyzade took to Facebook to remember Merle and the special relationship they shared. As Jeyda wrote, when she first started dating Ben she had no idea that his father was a country music legend.
“After living with them for about 5 months I began to kind of catch on that this was no regular man. I’d been living with a country music legend but I still had not idea of the scale or meaning of his story or fame.”
Over the years, Jeyda came to understand just how influential Merle was in the country music sphere. But to her, he was just the “humble down to earth man” who liked her cooking and enjoyed watching TV.
Despite this, Jeyda felt an immense sense of pressure to impress Merle. She said that she was always cautious around him, since his respect mattered so much to her:
“I respected him so much I never wanted to talk over him or speak up at the wrong time.. I know it may seem strange, but for some reason it took me a long time to figure Merle out and I didn’t want to blow it, his acceptance was important to me!“
For Jeyda, she said that her last year of knowing Merle was the best one, even though Merle was in bad health at the time. After going in and out of hospitals, Merle had enough. He knew his time had come, and he didn’t want to leave this world in a hospital bed.
That’s when Jeyda shared a detail about Merle’s death that few knew until now. He passed away on his tour bus:
“Merle got really weak and that’s when we decided to return home where he later passed on his bus in Palo Cedro, CA. I feel blessed that I was by his side and was able to promise him I would take care of Ben and that I loved him.. although he was weak he was able to open his eyes a bit, squeeze my hand and say he loved me too.“
As we mentioned before, this was a confirmed fact. Merle’s manager Fuzzy Owen told LA Observed after Merle’s death that he did indeed, pass away on his bus. “You’d have to be a musician to understand,” he said.
Still, even though this news was out there, few knew about it. Knowing Merle, we’d say it’s quite fitting that he left this world on his bus instead of a hospital bed.
You can read Jeyda’s full post below.
We’re sure you miss Merle dearly, just as thousands of others do. But his legacy will always live on, thanks to the incredible music he left us with.