Singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson has accused the Academy of Country Music of exploiting the legacy of Merle Haggard by creating an award in his name, despite the late artist not having held the organization in high regard.
In a lengthy statement posted to Facebook on Monday, Simpson said he thinks it’s “utterly disgusting the way everybody on Music Row is coming up with any reason they can to hitch their wagon to [Haggard’s] name while knowing full and damn well what he thought about them.”
He continued, “If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard, they should drop all the formulaic cannon fodder bulls‑‑‑ they’ve been pumping down rural America’s throat for the last 30 years along with all the high school pageantry, meat parade award show bulls‑‑‑ and start dedicating their programs to more actual Country Music.”
ACM announced the creation of the Merle Haggard Spirit Award last week, saying it would honor artists whose careers reflect “the uncompromising integrity and steadfastness of spirit embodied by the late Merle Haggard.” Haggard died in April at age 79.
Shortly after Simpson’s post went up, the academy announced that Miranda Lambert would receive the inaugural award at the ACM Honors on Tuesday. (The ceremony will be broadcast Sept. 9 on CBS.)
Simpson updated his post to clarify that his issue isn’t with Lambert, and he didn’t know she would be the honoree. “My words were in no way directed at her,” he wrote. “I know that Merle liked and respected her so it’s good to see there is at least some blue sky in all of this.”
Read Simpson’s full post below.