It's difficult to pinpoint why rumors of Merle Haggard's death are rampant, but his status as a country music icon probably helped the rumor spread. Haggard is just one of many celebrities who were purported to have died at one time or another.
Celebrity death hoaxes often begin with fake news stories before being spread on social media. In 2014, Hugh Hefner, Miley Cyrus and Betty White were among the celebrities rumored to have died.
With Haggard, his age and reputation might have played into the rumor. He was born in 1937 and is often considered as someone who lived a hard life, having served time in San Quentin prison when he was young. His well-known songs include "Mama Tried" and "Okie from Muskogee."