Controversy Is Nothing New In Country As We Remember Charlie Rich’s Burn On John Denver
Recently we’ve seen some changes in Country Music that have been causing some controversy, but guess what? It’s not the first time this has happened.Two of Country’s biggest stars, Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean, put out singles this summer that have a “rap” or “hip-hop” vibe to them. Shelton’s “Boys Round’ Here” and Aldean’s “1992” both shot up the charts and it seems to be a trend that’s not going away.
While nobody in the industry has become overly vocal, you can find plenty of old-school fans who are none to happy about the new direction. But back in 1975 there was one particular incident that trumped anything I’ve seen as far as controversy.
Apparently back in 1974 the traditional Country artists were outraged when Olivia Newton John won “Best Female Vocalist Of The Year”. So much so that they considered forming an association against “Pop” stars invading their territory.
That brings us to 1975 when outgoing “Entertainer Of The Year” Charlie Rich was to present the award to that year’s winner. John Denver was not completely accepted into the fold at that point, and many (including Rich) felt he had no business in Country Music.
Rich obviously knew, or was ready for the outcome, and was ready. According to witnesses he was backstage having several drinks so he had already built up the courage.
This is uncomfortable and sad to watch. Later Charlie Rich’s son said he was also taking painkillers for a condition, which only made things worse. That doesn’t make it any easier. Some say Rich’s career went downhill afterwards as he got very little support from his peers for this “stunt”.