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Kris Kristofferson in Heated Exchange With ‘Mystery’ Artist

Did Toby Keith once get a tongue lashing from Kris Kristofferson? Maybe, if you believe actor/director Ethan Hawke.

Hawke, a huge Kristofferson fan himself, wrote an article in the recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine about a confrontation he witnessed between the country icon and another country musician, whom he declined to name, at Willie Nelson‘s 2003 birthday concert at Madison Square Garden.

“Up from the basement came one of country music’s brightest stars (who shall remain nameless),” Hawke recalls, adding that the unnamed star went on to warn Kristofferson to not sing “any of that lefty s— out there tonight.”

Hawke doesn’t name Keith but does offer a pretty big clue that it was him: “At that moment in time, the star had a monster radio hit about bombing America’s enemies back into the Stone Age.”

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this one out. While Keith was also joined by Kenny Chesney, Merle Haggard and Shelby Lynne at Willie’s show, he was the only one who had a current song on the radio that referenced foreign enemies. And a monster hit it was — ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),’ which was a huge success on country radio.

Hawke writes that Kristofferson, a former Army officer himself, was clearly annoyed with the exchange. He recalls that the country icon asked the other musician, “You ever worn your country’s uniform?”

The artist, according to Hawke, responded with a bewildered “What?,” to which Kristofferson replied, “Don’t ‘what’ me, boy! You heard the question. You just don’t like the answer. I asked, ‘Have you ever served your country?’ The answer is, ‘No, you have not … You don’t know what the hell you are talking about!’”

Read Toby’s response to the alleged incident here.

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