Country Star Hospitalized: Merle Haggard Cancels Tour Dates Due To Illness

Country star Merle Haggard was hospitalized on Thursday night after suffering from pneumonia. The country music legend is undergoing treatment of pneumonia at an undisclosed hospital in California. While Haggard was forced to cancel some tour dates due to illness, the concerts will reportedly be rescheduled once the singer is well once again.

In November 2008, Merle Haggard had surgery to remove a “lemon-sized” tumor from his lungs, according to People. The tumor was reportedly determined to be cancerous, but the country star made what many deemed a remarkable recovery. Less than two months after undergoing surgery, Haggard announced that he was already writing songs and ready to go back to work.

Due to the cancerous tumor in the lungs, Haggard, 78, reportedly lost a significant amount of lung tissue and became more susceptible to lower respiratory tract infections. Merle was scheduled to play a concert in Palm Desert, California, last Wednesday but postponed the show due to illness, Rolling Stone reports.

The outlet also reports that the 78-year-old country star postponed Wednesday’s show in Palm Desert, California. A representative for Merle Haggard said all three of the cancelled tour dates will be rescheduled for early 2016, according to the singer’s Faceboook page.

Although Merle Haggard’s spokesperson did not state whether or not the legendary member of the Highwaymen will still take to the microphone next week as scheduled, those dates have not yet been removed from Haggard’s website.

Merle Ronald Haggard grew up during the Depression and proved that he had a great talent for playing the guitar and singing at an early age. Haggard was known to be rebellious in his youth, and the country star’s younger years may have inspired the timeless hit “Mama Tried.” Haggard spent a portion of his teenage years “in and out” of various county jails and reform schools. The criminal charges levied against him during his formative years include arrests for both theft and fraud.

When he was 21, Merle Haggard was convicted of burglary and attempting to break out of jail. Biography reports that the country music legend was sentenced to spent two and a half years behind bars at San Quentin Prison. While in prison, the singer decided that he needed to turn his life around and focus on improving his future. He joined the prison band and took courses to increase his level of education.

Once released from San Quentin, Haggard worked hard to break into the music business. He started by playing in small bars and nightclubs in the Bakersfield area and then took his show to Las Vegas. Once in Nevada, Merle began playing with guitarist Wynn Stewart on a regular basis.

Haggard signed his first recording contract in 1962. Three years after signing with Tally Records, he was offered a contract with Capitol Records. Haggard has recorded more than 38 number one songs and 50 albums over the course of his career. “Okie From Muskogee” was one of his most popular and still widely-requests songs. It was released in 1969.

Earlier this year, Merle Haggard once again joined forces with pal Willie Nelson and released a new album. Django and Jimmie debuted at the number on spot on Billboard’s Country Chart. Nelson and Haggard met at a poker game in Willie’s home in 1964. The two men became close friends in the 1970s.

Merle has received a plethora of awards during his career. In 1984, he won a 1984 Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. In 1998, the singer was awarded a Grammy for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. In 2014, the country music legend was presented with a Lifetime Award by CMT.

A national tour featuring both Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson was being planned to promote the release of Django and Jimmie, but the event was postponed due to Nelson’s health issues. When the medical issues subsided, the old buddies played several shows together and garnered rave reviews.

Well-wishers from around the world flooded the country star’s social media pages as soon as news spread that Merle Haggard had been hospitalized.

[Image via Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP]