The ACM Awards Didn’t Have an Entertainer of the Year Category for the First 5 Years
Sure, every awards show grows and changes over time. But did you know that the ACM Awards didn't even have an Entertainer of the Year category for the first five years of the ceremony's existence? That's right: What has come to be arguably the most prestigious honor of the annual event didn't even exist when country music's oldest awards show celebrated its first year.
In fact, at the first official ACM Awards show in 1966, the lack of Entertainer of the Year category wasn't the only thing separating those early years from the televised event country fans know and love today. Instead of Entertainer of the Year, artists vied for the honor of Man of the Year. No awards were given out for Song, Single or Album of the Year during that first event, either.
When Entertainer of the Year did become a category in 1971, Merle Haggard was the first artist of ever take home the trophy. He won that year's Male Vocalist of the Year award, too.
However, there was one category back then that the Academy has since retired: In the early '70s, the ACMs included an award for Country Comedy Act. With three trophies to his name, Roy Clark notched that title more times than any other artist.
Not only did the first ACM Awards dole out completely different prizes, but they also lacked the excitement of live television: The cameras didn't show up until 1972, when the show partnered with ABC to broadcast the event.
The ACM Awards show has seen plenty of twists and turns since it launched over five decades ago, but the history of the ACMs has even more twists and turns to it. To learn about Reba McEntire's long history as host, as well as which artists have won the most times, press play above to watch this episode of The Secret History of Country Music, from The Boot's partner site, Taste of Country.
After relocating from Las Vegas, Nev., to Nashville in 2020 out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACM Awards are back in Nashville in 2021. As showrunners did last year, they're spreading this year's event out across three iconic Music City venues: the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe. They'll be following national, state and local guidelines related to the pandemic, as well as additional, self-imposed safety measures.
The 2021 ACM Awards are set for April 18. They'll begin at 8PM ET and will air live on CBS and be available to stream on Paramount+; sign up for the streaming service here.
LOOK: Every ACM Awards Entertainer of the Year Winner Ever