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Remember When a President Attended the CMA Awards?

george bush barbara bush
Mark Wilson, Getty Images

Garth Brooks was so popular in 1991 that even the leader of the free world couldn’t pass up a chance to see the singer collect his first Entertainer of the Year award.

President George H. W. Bush brought First Lady Barbara Bush to the 1991 CMA Awards ceremony in Nashville, which took place on Oct. 2. While presidents have recorded skits for country awards shows since then, only the 41st president has seen the event live in person.

Brooks was the biggest breaking star in country music at the time, and his big night also included wins for Album of the Year for No Fences, as well as Single of the Year for “Friends in Low Places.” He also won Music Video of the Year for “The Thunder Rolls,” while Vince Gill took home Male Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year for “When I Call Your Name.”

Tanya Tucker won Female Vocalist of the Year, but had to skip the ceremony because she had just given birth to a son, while the Judds took home Vocal Duo of the Year. Travis Tritt won the Horizon Award that year.

Of course, President Bush wasn’t allowed to just enjoy the show quietly. He hobnobbed with country stars and celebrities and offered this memorable zinger: “When I need a little free advice about Saddam [Hussein], I turn to country music” (quote via Entertainment Weekly).

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