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Fully recovered, Merle Haggard prepares to hit the road again

Jeff Gentner / Jeff Gentner / Getty Images file

Merle Haggard, seen here in 2009, is rarin' to perform again.

Country music legend Merle Haggard is rehearsing with his longtime band, The Strangers, and gearing up to hit the road again after being sidelined by a bout of pneumonia and other ailments.

Haggard, 74, was hospitalized on Jan. 17 after illness forced him to cancel a show in Georgia just moments before taking the stage. Doctors treating him for double-pneumonia in a Macon hospital later discovered a number of other ailments.

"I'm feeling good and ready to get back on the bus," Haggard said on Wednesday in a statement issued by his Los Angeles-based publicist Tresa Redburn.

"Thanks to all for their powerful prayers that led to my speedy recovery. I'm rehearsing with the band and looking forward to playin' and singin' again," Haggard said.

His first performance will be Feb. 28 at the Fox Theatre in Tucson, Arizona. The January dates that he had to postpone due to his illness will be made up in April, Redburn said.

Even after the doctors had his pneumonia cleared up, the singer remained in the hospital for several days to recover after eight polyps were removed from his colon and for treatment of three stomach ulcers and diverticulitis in his esophagus, all of which were discovered by Macon medical staff, Redburn said.

Upon his release, Haggard credited the Macon medical team for "probably saving my life."

Best known for songs such as "Mama Tried," "Okie from Muskogee" and "The Fightin' Side of Me," the member of the Country Music Hall of Fame was released from a Macon hospital on Jan. 26 and flew home to Northern California to continue recuperating.

With influences ranging from Lefty Frizzell to Bob Wills to Jimmie Rodgers, Haggard is an architect of country music's so-called "Bakersfield Sound."

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