Sturgill Simpson released a statement today on his Facebook page slamming the Academy of Country Music and Garden & Gun magazine. In both instances, he said the entities disrespected Merle Haggard.
Simpson made the comments after the ACMs announced Miranda Lambert as the recipient of the inaugural Merle Haggard Spirit Award at the upcoming 10th Annual ACM Honors. The award is meant to honor Haggard’s uncompromising quest to create music true to himself. The Academy saw Lambert as a fitting embodiment of that concept.
However, Simpson did not. And he didn’t mince words.
“If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard, they should drop all the formulaic cannon fodder bullshit they’ve been pumping down rural America’s throat for the last 30 years,” Simpson said. “[A]long with all the high school pageantry, meat parade award show bullshit and start dedicating their programs to more actual country music.”
Simpson reminded everybody just how Nashville essentially squashed Haggard’s career. And yet, now the establishment wants to attach themselves to his name.
“In the last chapter of his career and his life, Nashville wouldn’t call, play, or touch him,” Simpson said. “He felt forgotten and tossed aside. I always got a sense that he wanted one last hit. One last proper victory lap of his own, and we all know deserved it. Yet it never came.”
Simpson also took aim at Garden & Gun magazine, who promised him Haggard would appear on the cover of their country music issue. Simpson and Haggard spent a whole day together at his Northern California ranch with a renowned photographer. At the last minute, the magazine put Chris Stapleton on the cover.
“Don’t get me wrong, Chris had a great year and deserves a million magazine covers,” Simpson said. “But thats not the point. It’s about keeping your word and ethics. Chris also knows this as he called me personally to express his disgust at the situation. Dude’s a class act.”
Here’s Simpson’s full post. In only a few hours, it has racked up more than 15,000 likes, 5,000 shares and 1,000 comments.
Since his rise in the public eye, Simpson became a close friend to Haggard in his final years. Simpson used to be quite vocal about his distaste for the music industry. But he squashed his criticisms in recent years, instead focusing on his own career.
Simpson is on the short list to earn nominations for the upcoming CMA Awards. If he makes the nominees — and wins — you better believe he’ll have something to say on stage.