By Whitney Pastorek
Updated August 03, 2020 at 12:00 PM EDT

Image Credit: PRN/PR Photos; Robert Pitts/LandovIn her recently-released memoir, Like Me, country singer Chely Wright comes out — and takes a harsh stand against old colleague John Rich (of Big & Rich). The two performed together in a long-ago Opryland show, and, according to Wright, it was a comment from Rich about sexuality that pushed her over the edge. As she told Access Hollywood, “[John] said, ‘You’re not gay are you?!’ I said, ‘No, John, I’m not.’ He said, ‘Good, thank God.’ And that began a spiral for me. I had a meltdown shortly after that.”

Now, Access Hollywood has posted the following statement from Rich on their website: “I would never pass judgment on any friend of mine. I feel awful that, at this time in Chely’s life, my decade old comment — ‘Good, thank God’ — was taken the wrong way. I was clumsily trying to express my relief that even a country boy like me had a one-in-a-million chance of having a beer with a woman as talented and attractive as Chely. For years after that conversation, Chely invited me to perform at charity events. In all that time, I wish she would have said something directly to me before the book’s publicity tour, especially since some of the comments attributed to me in the book are not mine. But I am happy for her and only wish her the best in her personal and professional life.”

Rich, who got in some hot water with the gay community after comments he made on a radio show in 2007, is clearly doing his best to smooth things over. But in her recent interview with, Wright implied that she still has her doubts. “I think he sees what it feels like to take on the gays, and he didn’t like it,” she said. “And I think he may not want to take this on. So he may say, ‘Um, I love Chely. I can love the sinner, hate the sin.’ He may say that. I don’t have to believe it.”

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