Thursday marks 1-year anniversary of Merle Haggard's death

A photo of country music icon Merle Haggard is seen Thursday, April 6, 2017, outside the restored boxcar Haggard lived in as a child in Bakersfield, Calif. Thursday marks one year since Haggard's death. (KBAK/KBFX photo/Claudette Stefanian)

Thursday marks a year since the passing of Bakersfield native and country music icon Merle Haggard.

Haggard had been suffering from pneumonia before his death at his Northern California home on April 6, 2016 -- his 79th birthday.

RELATED STORY | Restored Haggard boxcar to be unveiled during festival this Sunday

To mark the occasion, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, introduced a bill to rename the Downtown Bakersfield Post Office the Merle Haggard Post Office Building.

“Today we celebrate the life of one who helped put Bakersfield on the map and contributed to the creation of the famous ‘Bakersfield Sound,’” McCarthy said in a news release. “It is only suitable to honor Merle Haggard’s influence on our community’s unique culture. I look forward to naming a landmark for the ‘Poet of the Common Man' to stand in our city, which inspired some of his greatest hits to entertain a nation.”

A star-studded tribute concert is planned Thursday night in Nashville. Merle's son, Ben, is among those performing.

Ben and Noel Haggard will also perform this Sunday in Bakersfield with their father's band, The Strangers, at a festival unveiling the restored boxcar in which Haggard spent his childhood.

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