I saw Merle in concert at some little outdoor venue about ten years ago. The band went through about 15 minutes of opening music and no Merle. You could see the look of panic on the band members' eyes. Finally, ole Merle came stumbling on the stage, missed the mic stand, and nearly fell on his face. He pulled up a stool, proceeded to slur through telling us all how by the grace of God he has been continuing to remain sober for the last 8 years, then put on one heck of a show.