Friends of Merle Haggard question motive behind Academy of Country Music's Haggard Spirit Award

Posted at 5:15 PM, Aug 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-30 20:15:33-04

Friends of country music legend and Oildale native, Merle Haggard, are speaking out days after the Academy of Country Music announced they were creating the Merle Haggard Spirit Award. 

Friends said for years the relationship between Nashville and Haggard has been rocky and Monday singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson took to his Facebook page to speak out on the award, reported by the website Music Row

"Im writing this because I want to go on record and say I find it utterly disgusting the way everybody on Music Row is coming up with any reason they can to hitch their wagon to his name while knowing full and damn well what he thought about them."

Simpson went on to vent frustrations about the choices made in Nashville and the country music business there:

"Some days, this town and this industry have a way of making we wish I could just go sit on Mars and build glass clocks."

Friend of Haggard and Bakersfield Native, Gene Thome, said he agrees with Simpson's stance. 

"The motive on the award, I'm not sure it's in the right spirit."

Thome wonders why the ACMs would create the award after Haggard's death in April of this year. 

"I know they're trying to honor Merle in a certain way, I wish I knew more about what they were thinking when they did the award because, honestly, if Merle was here right now and he had a say in it, he would probably tell them not to do it. 

The ACMs announced Monday that Miranda Lambert would be the first recipient of the award and Simpson, once again, took to Facebook to address the announcement.

"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," Simpson wrote.

Thome agreed and said he hopes the ACMs will continue to choose recipients of the award wisely. 

"When I think of Merle Haggard, and think of the spirit of Merle Haggard, I think of somebody who thinks outside the box and does things in his own way," said Thome.

In the end, Simpson wrote his hope is that Merle could have been alive to have commented on the issue:

"Mostly though, I just wish Merle was still alive. I'd love for them to all hear his thoughts on the matter."

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Simpson is scheduled to to play at the Fox Theater in Bakersfield on November 18.

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