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Randy Johnson (Hill 'n Holler staff photo by Mariann Hyslop)

Randy Johnson (Hill ‘n Holler staff photo by Mariann Hyslop)

Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard

Thayer, Mo. — A crowd of Merle Haggard fans turned out here at the Fun and Friends Center Saturday night to pay tribute to the late great country outlaw singer.
Randy Johnson kicked the show off with Merle’s “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” and moved right on into “Today I Started Loving You Again,” probably for one of Merle’s several wives He was married to his fifth wife when he died. Johnson also hit on Haggard’s “Ramblin’ Fever.” Johnson told us he has been a lifelong Haggard fan and said he shed a tear the day the Hag died.
The show gave the audience a range of Haggard’s songs performed by stars from Repertory Theatre of the Ozarks (RTO) from the most recent “It’s All Going to Pot,” performed by J.W. Brewer, to one of his early songs “Sing Me Back Home” sung for us by Appalachian style singer Phyllis Simpson. The story goes that Merle wrote this for San Quentin death row inmate Caryl Chessman.
The entire RTO cast — including Brewer, Simpson, Dennis Hobbs, Mariann Hyslop and Vera Martin — took part in “Okie From Muskogee” and sang the finale “Silver Wings” “Silver Wings” was performed at his memorial service.
A guest singer, Marvin Wright, closed the show for Haggard with a heartfelt gospel “Life’s Stairway to Heaven.
Caroll Lucas
J.W. Brewer (Hill 'n Holler staff photo)

J.W. Brewer (Hill ‘n Holler staff photo)


Vera Martin and J.W. Brewer (Hill 'n Holler staff photo)

Vera Martin and J.W. Brewer (Hill ‘n Holler staff photo)


(Watch for links to videos — to come)

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