News And Notes
Sep 21

Mel Tillis, Marty Robbins Among ACM Honorees

Mel Tillis at the ACM Honors on September 20, 2010. Getty Images/Courtesy of the Academy of Country Music.

Martina McBride, Randy Travis, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Kenny Rogers were among the artists who showed up to perform on their behalf.

Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, Toby Keith and Barbara Mandrell were among the acts who sent their support via video.

But even more can be said by taking an inventory of the artists who were not on hand that were affected by the people who graced the stage Monday at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium: George Strait, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Josh Turner, Rascal Flatts, Alan Jackson, George Jones, Reba McEntire, Shania Twain… The real task would be to find artists who did not benefit from the raft of people — musicians, producers, concert executives, songwriters and pioneering artists who were honored at the fourth annual ACM Honors.

The event allowed the Academy of Country Music to give a more detailed account of the behind-the-scenes people and the pioneers of the genre than it could provide during its fast-moving televised awards.

Stuart Duncan, accepting the trophy as the Fiddler of the Year, called it “a special moment for me in a special place.” Don Schlitz, recognized with the Poet’s Award for his songwriting, thanked the Academy for honoring “the process of the poetry and the poetry of the process.” And Bass Player of the Year Michael Rhodes showed his appreciation to the ACM for “lettin’ the guys come out of the engine room, get on deck and get some sun.”

The late Marty Robbins received the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award in a ceremony that saw Marty Stuart perform the classic “Big Iron” with a band mixing members of his Fabulous Superlatives and Riders In The Sky. The tribute also saw Marty’s son, Ronny Robbins, perform “El Paso” with harmonies from Larry and Steve Gatlin.

Mel Tillis likewise picked up a Pioneer trophy after John Rich covered Mel’s Every Which Way But Loose contribution “Coca Cola Cowboy” and Kenny Rogers sang the Mel-penned “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.”

In the process, Marty and Mel ended up in a category with such previous Pioneer honorees as Alabama, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn.

“It means a lot,” Mel said, “and I’m in good company.”

Indeed. The entire winner’s list, originally announced in April, included:

Keith Urban — Jim Reeves International Award
• Marty Robbins — Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award
• Mel Tillis — Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award
• Don Schlitz — Poet’s Award
Cindy Walker — Poet’s Award
Crazy Heart — Tex Ritter Award
• Rod Essig, Creative Artists Agency — Mae Boren Axton Award
• Stuart Duncan — Top Fiddle Player of the Year
• Shannon Forrest — Top Percussionist/Drummer of the Year
• Paul Franklin — Top Steel Guitar Player of the Year
• Dann Huff — Producer of the Year
• Brent Mason — Top Guitarist of the Year
• Justin Niebank — Audio Engineer of the Year
• Michael Rhodes — Top Bass Player of the Year
• Michael Rojas — Top Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year
• Randy Scruggs — Top Specialty Instrument(s) Player of the Year
• Todd Boltin, Variety Attractions, Inc. — Don Romeo Talent Buyer of the Year
• Brian O’Connell, Live Nation — Promoter of the Year
• Billy Bob’s Texas, Fort Worth — Nightclub of the Year
• Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa and Casino, Las Vegas — Casino of the Year
• Bridgestone Arena, Nashville — Venue of the Year


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