Ben Haggard Mourns Devastating Loss

YouTube/Ben Haggard

In a heart-wrenching statement, the youngest son of country legend Merle Haggard opened up about the loss that not only he is experiencing, but many of his close friends and colleagues.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Ben Haggard has decided on a life filled with music and often channels his father’s spirit when he performs some of the most spectacular covers of his hits in person and on social media.

Since his father’s passing in April 2016, Haggard has been exploring the musician’s life and is performing around the country at various venues – and even some in Canada! Through that, the youngest Haggard has performed with many bands – but none more special than the band his father worked with when pioneering the Bakersfield Sound.

In the 60s and 70s, Merle worked alongside famous country band The Strangers for many of his albums, and in 1969 – they added horns to the band with legendary saxophonist Don Markham taking up the role of tenor sax and trumpet.

For more than 30 years, Markham worked with Merle and when Ben Haggard was older, he played with them, too, even performing alongside his dad in various concerts and more-so in the later years.

It was this incredible musician and friend that the young Haggard expressed his deep loss and mourning for earlier today (February 24th).

Through a statement posted to Instagram and accompanying a photo, Haggard writes, “If you don’t recognize him by his face, I can guarantee you will recognize him by his sound. Don Markham played all the legendary sax solos on many of my fathers hits, such as “I think I’ll just stay here and drink” and was a stranger for over 30 years.. sad to say we lost a legend this morning in this world, but safe to say dad gained a friend in heaven. Thank you for the memories. RIP Don.”

Markham and The Strangers worked tirelessly with Merle on many albums and even released a few of their own during the early 70s. The tragic passing of one of the pioneers in the Bakersfield Sound movement is a heartbreaking loss that many in the country music community are feeling today.

Several former band members and other friends, fans, and colleagues posted somber messages on social media today expressing their deep loss of a legendary man who contributed so much to country music and worked alongside legends like Haggard, Glen Campbell, and many more.

Our thoughts and prayers are with both the Markham family and the Haggard family during this very difficult time.

See the full message and photo below along with a video of Ben and Merle Haggard performing “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink”.