On March 3rd, Merle Haggard was receiving a career achievement award from “Country Radio Broadcasters.” At the ceremony the beautiful and talented Emmylou Harris performed a Haggard tune from 1985 called “Kern River,” which ignited Haggard’s memory and his contempt for the corrupt ways of corporate Nashville, and specifically a feud Haggard had over the song with then CBS Records executive Rick Blackburn back in the day.
Apparently Blackburn hated Haggard’s “Kern River,” and went out of his way to tell Haggard that over and over. Haggard got heated:
“That’s about the third time you’ve told me that.” Haggard said, “It’s more like five times. Well, I’m about five times short of telling you to go to hell.”
Then Haggard continued:
“Who do you think you are? You’re the son-of-a-bitch that sat at that desk over there and fired Johnny Cash. Let it go down in history that you’re the dumbest son-of-a-bitch I’ve ever met.”
Haggard, who is fighting lung cancer and was fighting a bout of pneumonia at the time, had the crowd at the award ceremony rolling.
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