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Remember When the Entertainer of the Year Award Went Up in Flames?

Charlie Rich

The country music establishment didn’t exactly welcome the 1975 CMA Award entertainer of the year with open arms. It was 37 years ago today (Oct. 13) that Charlie Rich — the previous year’s winner — opened the envelope, read the name and set fire to it. He never even announced the winner!

John Denver was linked up via satellite so he was unaware of Rich’s stunt and accepted his Entertainer of the Year win graciously. As for Rich, things didn’t go well for him after that. He was blacklisted from future CMA Awards and his record sales began to slip. Later, he would admit to being on prescription medication, and under the influence of gin and tonic. The incident made a recent list of the most shocking moments in country music history.

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