2016 was a difficult year for music fans, with many iconic artists, from Prince to George Michael, passing away. Country fans felt the sting of loss, too, saying goodbye to some of the genre's greats.
Chief among them was Merle Haggard, who died April 6th after a bout with pneumonia. The Country Music Hall of Famer left behind a legacy rich with hits: "Mama Tried," "The Bottle Let Me Down," "Okie from Muskogee" and many more.
Influential songwriter Guy Clark also died in 2016. Known for songs like "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train" and "The Cape," Clark died May 17th in Nashville. Earlier this fall, Grand Ole Opry star Jean Shepard also passed away in Nashville. She was 82.
Tragically, 2016 saw a few stars leave us way too young.
Joey Martin Feek of the husband-and-wife duo Joey + Rory passed on March 4th after a long battle with cancer. She was only 40. Eighties star Holly Dunn also died after a fight with cancer, at 59. And Craig Strickland, the 29-year-old singer of the band Backroad Anthem, fell victim to hypothermia after a duck-hunting accident last January.
Each had their own unique contribution to country music, and will be sorely missed.