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Alabama’s Randy Owen gives a heartfelt tribute to the legendary Merle Haggard AP Images
Merle Haggard performs on stage during the 2015 Stagecoach Festival at the EmpireClub on Friday, April 24, 2015, in Indio, Calif. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP) Randy -- AP too

As the country music industry continues to get used to a life without Merle Haggard on this earth, many of the most legendary artists are coming forward and opening up about the role Merle played in both their lives and their careers.

In a recent interview with the SunHerald, Alabama’s Randy Owen discussed the role Merle always played in the career of the band.

RELATED: The late Merle Haggard just gave his fans one final gift of music

“The first song that Alabama ever sang on stage was a Merle Haggard song,” Randy said in the article that ran on May 18. “The backup song that we were going to sing was a Merle Haggard song — we did ‘Sing Me Back Home,’ and we followed that with ‘Silver Wings.’”

RELATED: You won’t be able to resist singing along with this classic Alabama hit

Randy also reminisced about the shows they played together, most notably the night that the band was invited to play a show with Merle and Willie Nelson back in 1980.

“The way I remember it, the stadium got to jumping up and down and they started asking people to quieten down a bit because they thought the stadium was going to collapse,” he said. “People think there’s no way they got that stadium to shake, but they did. I got to hear Merle sing ‘Sing Me Back Home,’ and it was the all-time greatest version ever.”

Tricia Despres is a senior correspondent for Rare Country, based out of Chicago. Join the conversation on Twitter at @RareCountry. We would love to see y’all there.
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