Sturgill Simpson Blasts Academy of Country Music for New Merle Haggard Spirit Award
Sturgill Simpson is frustrated with the way the late, great Merle Haggard is being remembered in the mainstream country community, and he's speaking out about his feelings. The "Brace for Impact (Live a Little)" singer shared his frustrations with the "unjust treatment of a bona fide American music legend" on Facebook on Monday (Aug. 29).
In a lengthy post on his official Facebook page, Simpson calls out "everybody on Music Row" for "coming up with any reason they can to hitch their wagon to [Haggard's] name while knowing full and damn well what he thought about them." Specifically, the singer-songwriter directs his ire at the Academy of Country Music for creating a new award called the ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award, which he believes is not a genuine tribute but rather an effort to capitalize on Haggard's prolific career.
"If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard," Simpson fumes, "they should drop all the formulaic cannon fodder bulls--t they've been pumping down rural America's throat for the last 30 years along with all the high school pageantry, meat parade award show bulls--t and start dedicating their programs to more actual country music."
During his lifetime, Haggard was the recipient of 20 ACM honors, including the very first Entertainer of the Year Award in 1970. However, Simpson adds, "In the last chapter of his career and his life, Nashville wouldn't call, play or touch [Haggard]. He felt forgotten and tossed aside."
"I always got a sense that he wanted one last hit ... one last proper victory lap of his own, and we all know deserved it," Simpson continues. "Yet it never came. And now he's gone."
Simpson also voices his displeasure with Garden & Gun magazine for selecting Chris Stapleton over Haggard for the cover of a recent issue. Simpson, Haggard and Stapleton were all profiled in a country music-centric issue of the magazine earlier this year, and all three were photographed for the issue, but according to Simpson, Stapleton's spot on the cover was a last-minute switch, with Haggard originally lined up for the slot.
"Don't get me wrong, Chris had a great year and deserves a million magazine covers ... but that's not the point. Its about keeping your word and ethics," Simpson writes, noting that Stapleton "called me personally to express his disgust at the situation" and calling the star "a class act."
"The editor later claimed in a completely bulls--t email apology to both Merle's publicist and ours (Chris and I share the same publicist) that they didn't get any good shots that day ... OK buddy ... whatever you say," Simpson adds. "Some days, this town and this industry have a way of making we wish I could just go sit on Mars and build glass clocks."
Miranda Lambert will receive the inaugural Merle Haggard Spirit Award at the 2016 ACM Honors. The ceremony, which celebrates the special honorees and off-camera category winners from the 51st ACM Awards, which took place back in April, will take place on Aug. 30 at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, and the show will be produced for television by Dick Clark Productions and broadcast on CBS on Sept. 9 at 9PM ET.
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