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Country’s Most Shocking Moments – Charlie Rich Starts a Fire at the CMAs

Charlie Rich, John Denver
Keystone / David Warner Ellis, Getty Images

At the 1975 CMA Awards, Charlie Rich set John Denver’s win — and his own career — on fire. The 1974 CMA Entertainer of the Year opened the envelope for the 1975 award, saw Denver’s name, pulled a lighter out of his pocket and set the envelope on fire before walking off the stage.

Denver had no idea what had happened, as he was only available via satellite. Rich was blacklisted from future CMA events after what his son referred to as “bad judgment.” The Silver Fox admitted to being on a mix of gin and tonics and prescription pain medicine that night. It was never made clear if he was upset by Denver winning, or the infiltration of pop acts in country music. His career was never the same.

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