Billy Mize

Billy Mize himself might not be aware of the Cody Kessler connection

Joe Saunders

Many musicians over the years have claimed to have given Merle Haggard his first job on stage, but the story that Haggard endorsed was that of his good friend, Billy Mize. Mize, named the Academy of Country Music's TV Personality of the Year for three years running starting in 1965, suffered a stroke 20 years that still inhibits his ability to speak, but in this clip provided by Joe Saunders, his filmmaker-grandson, Billy — with help — talks about his relationship with the great songwriter, who passed Wednesday.

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