Country music legend Merle Haggard died Wednesday, April 6, which was his 79th birthday.

Merle Haggard Dead At 79

Haggard passed away at his home near Redding, Calif., following a recurring bout of pneumonia that began last year, reported TMZ. Earlier this year, Haggard had spent 11 days receiving treatment at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

It was thought that Haggard had fully recovered from his illness, as he had scheduled tour dates with Willie Nelson for their album Django and Jimmie. However, last month, Haggard was forced to postpone their concert tour in order to have more time to recover. He had also been forced to cancel tour dates in February.

“I’m really lucky to be alive,” Haggard told Rolling Stone at the time. “It could have gone in another direction had I messed around a little more. I’m just hoping I’m fully able.”

Haggard went on to explain that getting back up on stage is part of his healing process.

“I always felt better after I’d work because of the exercise it gave to my lungs,” he said. “When I play, I feel better when I come off.”

Haggard’s career in music spanned 50 years, during which time he recorded 40 No. 1 country singles. When he wasn’t writing his own music, he was writing hits for other greats, including Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and The Grateful Dead.

In 2004, Haggard was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Haggard is survived by his wife Theresa and children Dana, Marty, Kelli, Noel, Ben and Jenessa.

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