Hank Williams Jr., Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard Lead ACM Off-Camera Winners


Hank Williams Jr. photo courtesy of Webster & Associates.

March 25, 2009 — A bevy of country music standard bearers who made their first impact in previous decades — including Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Randy Travis and Hank Williams Jr. — are among the off-camera winners announced for the "44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards".

The genre’s pioneers, its musicians and the movie Beer For My Horses are among the winners of the California-based ACM’s special trophies, which will be presented during a ceremony in Nashville during September.

Dolly is receiving the Jim Reeves International Award for spreading country’s impact beyond America’s borders, while Merle and the late Harlan Howard — who authored such hits as Patty Loveless’ "Blame It On Your Heart," the Judds’ "Why Not Me" and Patsy Cline’s "I Fall To Pieces" — claim the Poet’s Award.

Kenny Rogers and the late Jerry Reed join Randy and Hank Jr. as winners of the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award, named for a significant West Coast musician, publisher and talent scout. Toby Keith’s Beer For My Horses follows such previous films as Walk The Line, Sweet Dreams and O Brother, Where Art Thou? in claiming the Tex Ritter Award, which bears the stamp of one of the silver screen’s singing cowboys.

The Academy also presents a bundle of industry honors and musician awards that recognize outstanding performance on a specific instrument. The musician winners (and some of their credits) include:

• Top Guitarist of the Year: Tom Bukovac (Carrie Underwood’s "Last Name," Rascal Flatts’ "Every Day")

• Top Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year: Gordon Mote (Darius Rucker’s "Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It," Trace Adkins’ "You’re Gonna Miss This")

• Top Bass Player of the Year: Glenn Worf (George Strait’s "Troubadour," Heidi Newfield’s "Johnny And June")

• Top Percussionist/Drummer of the Year: Greg Morrow (Chris Cagle’s "What Kinda Gone," Montgomery Gentry’s "Back When I Knew It All")

• Top Steel Guitar Player of the Year: Dan Dugmore (Josh Gracin’s "We Weren’t Crazy," Rascal Flatts’ "Take Me There")

• Top Fiddle Player of the Year: Aubrey Haynie (Darius Rucker’s "It Won’t Be Like This For Long," Lee Ann Womack’s "Last Call")

• Top Specialty Instrument(s) Player: (tie) Eric Darken (Brad Paisley’s "Letter To Me," Lady Antebellum’s "Love Don’t Live Here") and Jelly Roll Johnson (Gary Allan’s "Life Ain’t Always Beautiful," Joe Nichols’ "I’ll Wait For You")

• Audio Engineer of the Year: Chuck Ainlay (Taylor Swift, Brittini Black’s Good Happens)

• Producer of the Year: Tony Brown (Brooks & Dunn’s "Cowgirls Don’t Cry," George Strait’s "River Of Love")