Joe Nichols says he owes a lot to Merle Haggard. He tells CMT Hag "taught" him how to sing, "I spent many hours alone in my room with a Merle Haggard tape or a CD, just repeating it over and over -- trying to mimic his singing and trying to do what he did."
Merle recently said Joe was one of the few current country stars carrying on in his tradition -- an endorsement Nichols admits he was surprised and thrilled to receive.
He considers it "an incredible compliment," especially since he's a big Haggard fan and has been greatly influenced by the country legend. "I hope I always continue to have the Merle Haggard element to what I do."