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George Strait will never forget the music of his hero, Merle Haggard, who passed away just last year. To this day, George includes at least one Haggard song in every show he performs.

George tells “The Daily Beast,” “Right now, I’m doing ‘Mama Tried’ and “Workin’ Man Blues’ and then ‘My Life’s Been Grand.’ I end the tribute with that song. There are tons of Merle Haggard songs you could pick out. He was such a huge influence on me and my career.”

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Over the years, George got to hang out with his hero quite a few times.

“I feel very fortunate to do that,” George says.

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They even performed together a few years back at the ACM’s Salute to the Troops TV special.

George recalls, “The ultimate for me was, a couple of years ago, I got to sing with Merle on a show and we did ‘The Fightin’ Side of Me.’ After that you could have killed me right there and I would have died happy.”

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