Merle Haggard Cause of Death: How Did He Die?

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Merle Haggard performs onstage during of the Big Barrel Country Music Festival on June 28, 2015, in Dover, Delaware. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty)

Country music legend Merle Haggard died Wednesday on his 79th birthday, his manager says.

Haggard died of double pneumonia, according to his manager. The singer has dealt with health issues for the past several months and had to cancel shows earlier this year, according to The Tennessean.

He died at 9:20 a.m. in California, WSMV-TV reports. Haggard is survived by his wife, Theresa Ann Lane, and his six children.

Double pneumonia is when both the lungs are infected, according to Ceders-Sinai Medical Center.

“Individuals with double pneumonia may develop a number of respiratory-related symptoms, according to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. If you have double pneumonia, you may experience chest pain that fluctuates as you breathe—a condition called pleurisy,” according to “You may also have difficulty breathing or experience shortness of breath. Some patients with double pneumonia may experience a cough that persists for several days.”

About 60,000 people die of double pneumonia in the United States each year, according to Ceders-Sinai. Haggard had been in hospice care and was “weary” from battling pneumonia for so long, according to TMZ, and his manager says he had predicted to friends he would die on his birthday.

In December, Haggard told Sirius XM he nearly died when he was hospitalized with pneumonia.

“A couple of weeks ago, I came in the hospital here and I guess I was nearly dead,” he said. “They couldn’t tell whether the cancer had returned or whether I just had pneumonia. They had to wait until they got the pneumonia under control before we could tell. So it’s been kind of a tough couple of weeks. but I’ve got so many people to thank.”

He canceled two shows in January because of his recovery.

He also had to cancel his February tour but was hopeful he would recover and be back on the road, his manager said.

“It was like suffocating, like having a pillow in your face,” Haggard told Rolling Stone about his battles with pneumonia. “It’s a terrible thing; people die from it all the time.”

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