Matthew McConaughey presents Merle Haggard tribute at ACCAs

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Chris Stapleton Pays Tribute To Merle Haggard


Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey was on hand at the American Country Countdown Awards on Sunday night to introduce Toby Keith's Merle Haggard tribute with the country star's legendary back-up band The Strangers.

"Merle forever changed the course of country music," the actor and country music fan said to the sold-out crowd at The Forum in Los Angeles. "Merle's a hero to country music."

The country legend, who died April 6 at the age of 79, was known for such hit songs as "Okie From Muskogee" and "Sing Me Back Home.

Two months before Haggard died of pneumonia in his California home, Keith went onstage with him in Las Vegas and performed and mentioned that the country star was clearly ill but pushed through his performance so that his backing band would get paid.

"He made it [through] about eight songs," Keith told Billboard. "He was really struggling."

Even though he kept a rigorous tour scheduling throughout his career, Haggard's illness caused him to cancel several of his shows during the last months of his life.


PHOTOS: Check out the ACCAs red carpet

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2016 American Country Countdown Awards red carpet
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Matthew McConaughey presents Merle Haggard tribute at ACCAs
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Carrie Underwood attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Cam attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Martina McBride attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Toby Keith attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Kelsea Ballerini attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Luke Bryan (L) and Caroline Boyer attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Jennifer Nettles attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Recording artist Reba McEntire attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singers Brian Kelley (2nd L) and Tyler Hubbard (2nd R) of Florida Georgia Line with Brittney Marie Cole (L) and Hayley Stommel (R) attend the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Actor Terry Crews attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Sam Hunt attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Sara Evans attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Recording artists Maddie (L) and Tae attend the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Scotty McCreery attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Trent Harmon attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Olivia Lane attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Chris Lane attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Actress/singer Jana Kramer attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Rebecca King-Crews attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Cole Swindell attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Chase Bryant attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Dan Smyers (L) and Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay attend the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Actress Lori Alan attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Thomas Rhett attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Michael Ray (L) and Carli Manchaca attend the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Canaan Smith attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Radio personality Lisa Manning attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Recording artist Kalie Shorr attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Recording artist Olivia Lane attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singer Chris Janson (L) and Kelly Janson attend the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Singers Ronnie Dunn (L) and Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn attend the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for dcp)
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