Sturgill Simpson Remembers John Prine After No ‘In Memoriam’ at CMAs
Among many other criticisms being lobbed at the 2020 CMA Awards broadcast on Wednesday (11-11), the lack of an In Memoriam segment, and specifically overlooking major deaths in country music such as John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Billy Joe Shaver have quite a few hopping mad.
This is in spite of the CMA’s actually devoting more time than normal to tribute both artists that have passed away recently, and an important living legends. The program commenced with an extended tribute to Charlie Daniels performed by Dierks Bentley, Ashley McBryde, Jason Aldean, and others. Daniels passed away on July 6th at the age of 83.
Jon Pardi also paid tribute to 90’s country star Joe Diffie, who died due to COVID-19 complications on March 29th, and was one of the first celebrities to pass away due in part to the disease. Kenny Rogers was also paid tribute to by Little Big Town. Rogers died on March 20th. Darius Rucker and Reba McEntire sang “In The Ghetto” written by songwriter and performer Mac Davis, who passed on September 29th.
But unlike the ACM Awards held on September 16th that included an extended In Memoriam segment, and made sure to give mention to even side players and songwriters such as Jimmy Capps, David Olney, and Gary McSpadden, the CMAs didn’t devote what would have taken 30 seconds to list off the names of fallen country music greats in 2020, of which there’s been a sizable amount of.
“Two seconds, that’s all it would have took,” Sturgill Simpson said in a missive on Instagram. “Don’t get it twisted…wouldn’t be caught dead at this tacky ass glitter and botox cake & cock pony show even if my chair had a morphine drip. I just wanted to see if they would say his name but nope. No time for Buddha.”
Though Sturgill focused mostly on the oversight of John Prine, many in Texas and beyond remarked on the forgoing of mentions for Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver who both just recently passed away, as well as Johnny Bush and James Hand.
Other notable 2020 passings include Justin Townes Earle, Harold Reid of The Statler Brothers, Willie Nelson drummer and long-time right hand man Paul English, legendary drummers Biff Adam and W.S. Holland, Bakersfield legend Fuzzy Owen, and Opry legend Jan Howard, along with others.
The CMAs also failed to mention the new Country Music Hall of Fame members, which they regularly do. Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart, and songwriter Dean Dillon were all selected for the 2020 class.
November 12, 2020 @ 2:43 pm
No mention of Harold Reid of the Statler Brothers either. I still am amazed at the lack of attention that Harold’s passing got. The Statler Brothers were had a massive following in their day. And Harold was a huge part of their success with his singing and his personality. Harold Reid deserved more recognition.
November 13, 2020 @ 9:32 am
I second this. I know that a lot of attention has been paid this year to the “bigger names” (and rightly so), but out of all the stars we have lost this year, Harold Reid was the one that hurt the most for me. I’m not a crier, but the day I got the news about Harold, there were tears in my eyes all the way home as I blasted The Statlers.
November 12, 2020 @ 2:49 pm
November 12, 2020 @ 2:55 pm
Mac Davis was paid tribute by Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker who performed “In The Ghetto.” The irony here is that the CMAs devoted a ton of time this year to tribute segments, including to Charley Pride, who got one of the longest segments of the show, and they opened the show with a Charlie Daniels tribute. But as Sturgill Simpson said, all it takes is two seconds, and that little bit of effort goes a long way for the fans and families of these artists who’ve died. I’m sure the CMAs feel like they can’t win for losing here. But why you can’t just make an In Memoriam segment a permanent part of the presentation every year is beyond me. The Grammy Awards always do it. With the CMAs and ACMs, it seems to be time dependent, as opposed to fitting everything else around making sure it’s there.
November 12, 2020 @ 3:37 pm
I was watching the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductions on HBO right before the CMA’s and I was overwhelmed and blown away by the In Memoriam presentation they put on. They did a great job and put a photo of John by himself in it that lingered. He deserved better at the CMA’s.
November 12, 2020 @ 5:13 pm
Alright, wasn’t gonna comment. But im wading in! First: Charlie Tribute, the good: Brothers Osborne pulled out a decent version of Trudy with twin Les Pauls and even semi capably showing off dual harmony leads like Charlie used to do. Texas , a nice deep cut from Charlies catalog , and Ashley did alright with it, as did Brothers Osborne on the guitar leads. Fiddle player was pretty good too. Note for Note fiddling on Devil Went Down to Georgia was competent. Aldean managed to not totally wreck it in spite of himself.. Also good: John Pardi…not better or equal to Diffie, but alright nonetheless. Charlie Pride, very nice to see him, even though he was being exploited . I really wish it was sincere.. He deserves every award out there..Dude is so sincere and honest Jimmie Allen, btw imo, is an r&b singer, not a country music artist.
As to the subject at hand, yes not mentioning those we’ve lost was a BIG mistake. Unforgivable, in fact. Omitting mention of Billy Joe, Jerry Jeff, Johnny Bush and Prine was a real smack against their respective legacies. Truthfully though, none of them had great recognition to average radio listeners, so even if they had, the casual pop music fan watching wouldn’t have even paid attention, let alone looked up their music.
I certainly didn’t have the stomach to watch the whole show. From what I see on the list, no actual country music artists received awards. Charlie Pride being the lone exception.
November 12, 2020 @ 2:50 pm
He ain’t wrong! Those three are giants who kept going throughout their entire lives, even when it got rough and few were paying attention. The impact those 3 individuals had, and will continue to have, is beyond measure. It would have meant alot to a lot of people just to grant them a tiny fraction of the memoriam they deserve.
November 12, 2020 @ 2:57 pm
You can’t make everyone happy but at least they tried
I was through the roof when they shafted Roy Clark a bit ago so I’m happy they’re doing even a bit more to show respect also charley pride is one of my top ten favorite country singers
So I get the anger but I also am glad we got what we got
But I also have mad respect for sturgill Simpson and his willingness to say the hard things and call people out even when it makes him look bad
Cool Lester Smooth
November 13, 2020 @ 5:37 am
It actually would have been very easy to make everyone happy:
Increase the In Memoriam by 30 seconds, and include a few more names.
I mean…it’s John Fucking Prine.
November 12, 2020 @ 3:10 pm
”wouldn’t be caught dead at this tacky ass glitter and botox cake & cock pony show even if my chair had a morphine drip. ”
I wonder if he’s related to the Donald ? lotta venom in this guy ….lotta venom . its this kind of immature filter- less hatred and bullying that contribute to the divisiveness is it not ?
there are always far more diplomatic ways to make a point and , more than likely , have people respect and appreciate it .
November 12, 2020 @ 3:23 pm
But he’s not wrong tho.
November 12, 2020 @ 5:25 pm
Normally I hate it when people drag mainstream country (cause news flash folks, it’s entirely possible to like Jason Isbell AND Maren Morris it’s not an either/or deal.)
However I just love Sound & Fury so Sturgill is forgiven… 🙂
November 12, 2020 @ 7:05 pm
Politically I tend to be somewhere in the middle to middle of the right depending on the issue. Thought it was funny. Not pointing at anyone in particular but it seems a lot of people need to pull the stick out. The right to be offended is not a thing.
November 13, 2020 @ 1:55 am
At least he’s got a way with words
November 13, 2020 @ 12:34 pm
False equivalence, much?
You act like you ain’t never seen someone cuss before.
November 14, 2020 @ 7:39 am
If The Donald were so inclined to insult the CMA’s, he would just call them losers and say “nobody watches them anymore.” Sturgill’s language reminds me of some of Trigger’s more inspired “Down with Pop Country” rants. And as far as the suggestion about a more diplomatic approach goes, my guess would be that Sturgill would be in agreement with Isbell’s comment that his “energy is best spent elsewhere.”
November 12, 2020 @ 3:22 pm
CMAs are an embarrassment to country music’s legacy
November 12, 2020 @ 3:22 pm
How do you forget the “Paul” of “Me and Paul”? I think there needs to be another verse about being disrespected by the CMA.
November 12, 2020 @ 9:46 pm
I totally agree, I grew up on Texas swing and “outlaw country,” it amazes me that these other award shows can do such a great job of honoring all parts of what has gone in to the industry.
November 12, 2020 @ 3:25 pm
At this point are we all really surprised at this? I sure ain’t.
November 12, 2020 @ 3:31 pm
I’m very far from Nashville, from a country, France, that doesn’t know so much about country music, but on my little blog, Country Music France, I knew it was important to make a tribute to Jerry Jeff Walker, Billy Joe Shaver and of course John Prine. And I wrote a post about them (and other country artists who passed away this year) for All Saints Day. What was my surprise when I saw that the CMA’s ignored those legends!
November 12, 2020 @ 4:32 pm
Cool blog. Bookmarked.
November 13, 2020 @ 12:36 pm
November 14, 2020 @ 10:31 am
Can you provide a link to this blog?
November 14, 2020 @ 10:39 am
Of course! Here it is: https://countrymusicfrance.fr/
November 12, 2020 @ 4:27 pm
Prine estate also came out with a statement of disappointment
November 12, 2020 @ 4:30 pm
The CMA is a trade organization dedicated to promoting country music businesses. It’s not a cultural organization, indie magazine, or history museum.
November 12, 2020 @ 6:47 pm
No mention of the new hall of fame members was the most unforgivable.
November 12, 2020 @ 7:46 pm
Jason Isbell just posted on twitter that he and Amanda Shires turned in their CMA lifetime membership cards over the issue.
Really CMA’s this year was just a massive series of missteps that happen when you try to pander without actually being aware or caring about the issues
November 12, 2020 @ 9:22 pm
I remember Isbell tweeting out a year or so ago,
“I will not be playing CMA fest this year. Reason being, I don’t want to.”
Made me laugh.
November 12, 2020 @ 10:05 pm
The CMAs leaving out so many influential artists in their tributes was awful. They could done a Jerry Jeff song instead of that weird Charlie Puth/Gabby Barrett thing, or a John Prine tribute with Kacey M. at the mic instead of….well, lots of things. I also felt that the Daniels and Diffie tributes were the only ones that did the artists justice (tip for the planners – pick a song that is a signature song of the artist you’re memorializing).
All that said, the tributes they did do were just about the best thing of the night.
November 12, 2020 @ 10:11 pm
This feels quite performative, and like an overreation, and I feel like Isbell and Shires could be important voices in the room and voters at the CMA. The CMA is not going anywhere. 50 years from now, they will be putting on the CMA Awards. So we either voice our opinion and speak up about what we see as wrong (which is the reason I pay so much attention to them, despite not really being into mainstream country), or we leave them to do their worst, which is a disservice to the country music community.
The CMA’s did devote more time this year to tributes than most any. They just did it in the wrong way. They didn’t censor artists or the media as some continue to accuse, but they certainly gave ample ammunition to their accusers of such via unforced errors.
Their concept for the awards this year was a big fail overall.
November 12, 2020 @ 11:16 pm
Perhaps….MAYBE…..the real “disservice to the country community” and “performative act,’” MIGHT be this continual and deliberate suspension of disbelief, not unlike pretending the emperor is wearing new clothes. The jig is up.
November 14, 2020 @ 7:53 pm
LOL. Of COurSE you thought Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires were being performative. OF FUCKING COURSE YOU DID.
Meanwhile, this dumb fuck spouts his bitter old spew and you lap it up.
Anyway, Sturgill doesn’t have a sincere bone in his body.
I Stan For Moe Bandy
November 12, 2020 @ 10:24 pm
Imagine being that self-righteously indignant all the time. Must be exhausting.
Cool Lester Smooth
November 13, 2020 @ 5:44 am
…Isbell and Shires had a legitimate relationship with Prine – their kid called him “Uncle John.”
Go ahead and pearl-clutch about them being mean to the CMA…but it seems like an odd hill to die on.
November 13, 2020 @ 6:27 am
Not to mention Shires’s connection to Billy Joe Shaver (played in his band and he was one who encouraged her to write her own songs, I believe). Both Billy and Jerry Jeff were mentioned in the tweet as well.
November 13, 2020 @ 9:06 am
Happy to see Jack W piping up again. Was about to call for a welfare check, or send the St. Bernards out.
November 13, 2020 @ 9:05 am
They have every right to be angry that they didn’t mention John Prine and others. I’m angry they didn’t mention John Prine and others, and said so in real time. My only question is why not use your position of membership to lobby for a permanent “In Memoriam” segment every year during the awards as opposed to burning your chit for a viral moment on Twitter? The CMA is not going anywhere. That’s two less votes going to the cool artists that get nominated each year.
Cool Lester Smooth
November 13, 2020 @ 9:20 am
That’s very fair – and no one’s ever accused that family of not loving to cut off their noses to spite their faces, haha!
I was just explaining to yer man that this isn’t “self-righteous” posturing – this is them being pissed off at an insult to their dead friends.
November 13, 2020 @ 1:40 pm
Imagine going through life not willing to stand up for your friends and heros. Must make it real easy to sink into your La-Z-Boy with a tv remote and can of beer.
November 12, 2020 @ 8:06 pm
If one accepts that the CMAs are indeed a “…tacky ass glitter and botox cake & cock pony show,” why then would one be at all surprised by this, let alone care?
Cool Lester Smooth
November 13, 2020 @ 5:48 am
November 13, 2020 @ 7:36 am
Because “tantrum” is a well-established form of marketing.
The CMA should never be in the business of hosting “tributes.” It is a trade organization with an annual trade show, not a hall of fame.
Think of the CMA’s as a car show. Every year, they trot out new models and give awards for “best car of the year.” It’s a way an industry strokes itself and shows off.
And it’s now also a means for non-CMA artists to position themselves against it, for whatever purpose. Simpson is just doing his “Mr. I Transcend Country Music Angrypants” thing.
November 13, 2020 @ 9:08 am
Yeah, you can keep saying that, and I understand your point. But I’m just not sure this is true. Yes, they are a trade organization. But they also choose who goes into the Country Music Hall of Fame. They’re the closest thing to a governing body country music has. I will always lobby for more time spent tributing country legends than less.
November 13, 2020 @ 11:11 am
If that’s the case, I’m happy to stand corrected.
I see the CMA has “director” positions, some of whom are from the HOF. I’m out here in the fields. Do you mean the whole CMA membership votes on who goes into the Hall of Fame?
If Simpson is so bent out of shape by all this, why doesn’t he join the CMA and lobby for his heroes?
We know the answer.
November 13, 2020 @ 11:18 am
The CMA fields the committee that chooses who goes into the Hall of Fame. The CMA is the organization that created the Hall of Fame. No, CMA members do not get to vote on Hall of Fame members directly, but they may have a say so in who does, while I’m sure all of the committee members are also CMA members.
If you want a detailed breakdown on how Hall of Fame members are named, you can find one here:
November 14, 2020 @ 8:07 pm
”If Simpson is so bent out of shape by all this, why doesn’t he join the CMA and lobby for his heroes?”
seems to me that if you don’t play COUNTRY music anymore you shouldn’t be slamming anyone at a ‘country’ awards show ..even if many of THEM aren’t playing country . you are just doing the same …..genre -hopping . yes…I know he just decided to go bluegrass …but who knows what he’ll be next time out . I ‘m fine with him doing whatever he wants and he certainly has a following . but as you say ….’ shit or get off the pot ‘ . SS is no more right for slamming half of these acts than he is for recording non-country stuff himself and having it win awards at a ‘country’ awards show ( Sailor ), IMO.
this guy just seems angry , confused and frustrated anytime I hear him or the genre of music he’s dabbling in at the time .
November 12, 2020 @ 9:45 pm
ESPN did a pretty cool tribute to John Prine with “I Remember Everything” for The Masters. Highly recommend checking it out.
November 13, 2020 @ 6:28 am
The CMAs are very inconsistent with their In Memorium tributes. 2017 is the only year I recall within the last 30 years when they had a proper one that featured photos onscreen, similar to what the ACMS very nice pulled off this year.
The year Merle passed, Vince opened the show with a minute-version of “Mama Tried,” and when George Jones passed away in 2013 both Alan Jackson and George Strait came together to perform “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” So it’s interesting to me that they would dedicate their entire opening segment to Charlie Daniels this year.
I assumed the Charlie and Kenny Rogers tributes would happen since they were both members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, but there was no mention of Harold Reid, also a member.
Producer Robert Deaton produced several of Joe Diffie’s music videos in the 90s, including Pickup Man and Prop Me Up – so the inclusion of an entire song to him was most likely a producer decision.
I recognize that the CMA was probably trying to steer from a darker, somber tone, which could possibly be why they omitted segments dedicated to the artists that passed on, but if country music prides itself on being real…then you need to properly respect the ones that laid the foundation for the genre.
November 13, 2020 @ 8:31 am
The 2020 CMAs dedicated more time to tributing artists that have passed away in the last year than any other time in modern history, and it’s not even close. I’m not trying to make excuses for them, but that should be recognized when we’re criticizing them for not showing respects. They did, and more than ever. They just decided to zero in on some specific artists.
November 13, 2020 @ 8:37 am
I’d say it’s the same amount of performances as 2017:
Tulsa Time – Brothers Osborne
Rascal Flatts + Dierks Bentley with Eddie Montgomery- My Town
Little Big Town – Wichita Lineman
Carrie Underwood – Softly and Tenderly – Featuring names/photos of all artists that passed away.
It would just be nice if they had some consistency like the Grammys do with their in-Memorium section.
November 13, 2020 @ 9:13 am
Yes, but then add on top Charley Pride getting a performance in tribute to him, his own performance, and an elongated moment for an acceptance speech.
Again, I am in no way apologizing for the CMA. But there’s a lot of folks who didn’t watch the CMAs and never will writing think pieces this morning about how they didn’t honor the dead, when they did. They just didn’t do an In memoriam segment, which I’ve been lobbying becoming a permanent fixture for years.
November 13, 2020 @ 6:53 am
I love this post and hate the CMA’s these days. On a different note, can anyone shed some light on what new music comes out today please? I know next Friday is Terry Douglas Band and Ward Davis but I need new music this week! I know Trigger does wonderful work on getting us list for upcoming albums for each week but I can’t remember what to put into the search que to find the last post regarding new releases. Help!!
November 13, 2020 @ 7:44 am
3,2,1,…Que Olar…(who seems to be silent lately)
November 13, 2020 @ 7:58 am
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!
November 13, 2020 @ 8:47 am
I have noticed Olar has been silent lately as well. Hopefully all is well.
November 13, 2020 @ 8:55 am
I reached out a couple of weeks ago with an email. Did not hear back. Hoping everything is okay as well.
November 13, 2020 @ 8:28 am
Every few months I put out a list of all the new albums come up, and constantly update it in real time, though I don’t take anything off it so folks can go back and see what they missed. I encourage folks to bookmark this list and come back to it each Friday to see what is being released.
Here’s the latest one:
Albums on November 13th:
Josh Abbott Band – The Highway Kind
Chris Stapleton – Starting Over
Sunny Sweeney – Live from the Machine Shop
Adam Hurt – Back to the Earth – November 13th
The Sensational Country Blues Wonders – The World Will Break Your Heart – November 13th
Wayne Graham – 1% Juice – November 13th
Randall Bramblett – Pine Needle Fire – November 13th
Last Year’s Man – Brave The Storm – November 13th
Shenandoah – Every Road – November 13th
Spencer Cullum – Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection – November 13th
Johnny Cash and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – November 13th
The Piedmont Boys – Almost Home – November 13th
TOWNE – In The In Between – November 13th
Jay Bragg – Find Me In a Song – November 13th
Blackhawk – Just About Right: Live in Atlanta – November 13th
November 13, 2020 @ 9:28 am
Thank you very much, Trigger! This is what I was looking for!
I appreciate it, have a great Friday!
November 13, 2020 @ 3:54 pm
Gillian Welch – Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs, Vol. 3
November 20, 2020 @ 5:03 pm
I emailed the Hall of Fame again last week on Thursday, November 12 about the Medallion Ceremony for this year’s Hall of Fame inductees (Dean Dillon, Marty Stuart and Hank Williams, Jr.) and in their quick reply back to me, they said:
We have not yet set a date for the 2020 Medallion Ceremony due to COVID-19. We are hoping to honor these inductees next year when it is safe to do so.
They also told someone on Twitter last week on the evening of Wednesday, November 11 about the induction ceremony for this year’s Hall of Fame inductees and here’s what they had to say about it:
We look forward to honoring and paying tribute to the accomplishments of the 2020 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees as soon as we are able to gather safely.
What do you think?.
November 20, 2020 @ 5:18 pm
I think we continue to wait. With cases spiking, I would not expect for it to happen anytime soon.
November 25, 2020 @ 9:18 pm
I love Sturgill but I just think he’d do better to not look so bitter all the time. Just my two cents.
December 1, 2020 @ 2:42 pm
I emailed the Hall of Fame again last night about the 2020 Medallion Ceremony being postponed to next year and how will it effect 2021 inductions and in their reply back to me this morning, they said:
We have not made any decisions regarding both the 2020 and 2021 Medallion Ceremonies due to the pandemic. Once we have more information, we will post it on our website and include it in our E-Newsletter.
What do you think?.
December 1, 2020 @ 2:47 pm
I think we wait a little longer.