People Country

Hot Topics:

Garth Brooks Sings 'Happy Birthday' to Merle Haggard

04/06/2014 at 11:55 PM EDT

Garth Brooks presented Merle Haggard with the ACM Awards Crystal Milestone Award Sunday, honoring the 77-year-old's contributions to country music on a very appropriate occasion: Haggard's birthday.

George Strait and Miranda Lambert led the band in a performance of Haggard's most famous songs, including "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down," "Mama Tried" and "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive."

Garth Brooks Sings 'Happy Birthday' to Merle Haggard| Academy of Country Music Awards, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert

Merle Haggard

Ethan Miller / Getty

The standing ovation that greeted Brooks as he walked onstage made it clear he's still a beloved figure in country music. Yet the moment belonged to Haggard – and the impromptu performance of "Happy Birthday" the onstage crew bestowed upon him was sweet proof of the music man's eternal popularity.

"Country music's been great to me all my life," Haggard said, "and it's great again tonight."

Follow PEOPLE on Facebook!

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Bindi Irwin: Remembering My Dad
  • Bindi Irwin: Remembering My Dad
  • Adam Levine's Wedding Details!
  • James Garner: 1928-2014

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine

blog comments powered by Disqus

From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners