After the American Idol performance finale, Keith Urban revealed that he began his album listening party on Wednesday with a song by Haggard as a way to honor the musician.
"I did an album listening party today and I started with a Merle Haggard song because he was a big part of my youth growing up. Growing up, my dad had several Merle Haggard records and I got to see him play many times," Urban, 48, told reporters. "We have an event every year, All for the Hall, that I do with Vince Gill [benefiting the Country Music Hall of Fame], and Merle came in one time and participated in that, so I got to play with him and he comes from that line of just unfiltered truth-tellers."
"He just wrote some of the most iconic country songs of all time," he continued. "He's really going to be missed."
Haggard's death, which occurred on his 79th birthday, also prompted other stars in the music industry to pay their respects.
RIP Merle Haggard. I was woken up most mornings when I was a kid to Okie From Muskogee being played down the hall n my house. #randombuttrue— Kelly Clarkson (@kelly_clarkson) April 7, 2016
so sad to lose one of the greatest American singer-songwriters of our time. Merle haggard was an outlaw and a poet and a storytelling genius. of the few songs he ever recorded that he didn’t write was one of my mom’s songs, “Old Flames Can’t Hold A Candle To You.” that's the first time I heard about him, from my mom. He will be missed https://youtu.be/p7F9Yg6IDO0
"RIP Merle Haggard. I was woken up most mornings when I was a kid to 'Okie From Muskogee' being played down the hall n my house #randombuttrue," Kelly Clarkson tweeted on Wednesday night.
It looks like it's raining in Nashville today but really it's Tennessee tears for Merle Haggard. You'll always be the best. #longlivetheHag— Jerrod Niemann (@jrodfromoz) April 6, 2016
I’m so sad to hear we’ve lost @merlehaggard. His music was a staple in our home, growing up.— Shania Twain (@ShaniaTwain) April 7, 2016
It felt like the world stopped for a moment when I heard about Merle Haggard...such an icon...thanks for your gift to all of us brother— Brett Eldredge (@bretteldredge) April 6, 2016
On February 21st, 2010... I had the blessing of meeting and spending time with this man before his show at the Rosemont Theatre in Chicago, IL. He let me photograph him backstage a couple of hours before he went onstage to a beloved crowd and took them to CHURCH. I got him to laugh at a joke at this very moment... My Grandfather was one of his hugest fans, as am I, so this was a very special day for me. The Country Music World has lost a LEGEND and a hell of a man. #RIPMerleHaggard
Incredibly sad tonight.. Goodbye Merle Haggard.— Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) April 7, 2016
A true hero was lost today. Thank you for your contribution to not only country music but all music. @merlehaggard— Luke Bryan (@LukeBryanOnline) April 6, 2016
Kesha also took to social media and shared a lengthy tribute to the singer on Instagram, referring to him as "one of the greatest singer-songwriters of our time."
"Merle haggard was an outlaw and a poet and a storytelling genius," she continued. "Of the few songs he ever recorded that he didn't write was one of my mom's songs, 'Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle to You.' That's the first time I heard about him, from my mom. He will be missed."
Reporting by PATRICK GOMEZ