Country singers are not all well-mannered folks with southern charm.
From the often unruly Johnny Cash to untimely deaths and shocking shootings, here are a few moments in country music’s history that made us gasp.
1. George Jones’ drunken behavior
Drunken arrests and scandalous videos are all too common in the entrainment industry today, but the footage of “The Possum” getting cuffed was shocking for its time. Jones struggled with drinking and substance abuse and even showed up to award shows obviously inebriated.
He slurred his words during a live performance of his song, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” But despite Jones’ shortcomings, his fans stood ferociously through his struggles and supported the singer who is considered to be one of the greatest influence on country music. Jones died in April 2013 at age 81.
2. Reba’s red dress
When Reba McEntire walked out onstage to perform at the 1993 Country Music Awards in a floor-length red sequined gown with a plunging neckline, country music fans’ hearts all skipped a beat.
“I got more press off that dress than if I’d won Entertainer of the Year,” she said in an interview.
While the red hot number may not seem risqué today in a world of leotards and foam fingers, Reba’s infamous dress was quite shocking in the early ’90s.
The dress is currently on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
3. Rascal Flatts admit to lip syncing
When the award winning trio took the stage to perform their single “Rewind” at the 2014 ACM Awards, rumors that the band lip-synced their song swirled when lead singer Gary LeVox’s lips didn’t match up with the sound.
The group admitted that they were forced to lip-sync or cancel due to LeVox losing his voice before the live broadcast.
4. Hank Williams’ untimely passing
Although Hank Williams Sr. passed away at the young age of 29, the country legend left his mark on American music forever. Williams passed away on January 1, 1953 from a heart attack thought to be caused by a toxic combination of drugs five days after the birth of his daughter, Jett.
The “Lovesick Blues” singer released 35 albums, five posthumously, and his children and grandchildren continue to grace the country charts today with their music.
5. Johnny Cash censored
Believe it or not, The Man in Black was once banned from the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1965, Cash broke the floor lights on the Opry’s stage and let’s just say the country music venue was not too pleased.
“I don’t know how bad they wanted me in the first place,” said Cash. “But the night I broke all the lights on the stage with the microphone stand, they said they couldn’t use me anymore.”
The two eventually got over their riff and Cash was once again allowed back to the Opry before his death.
Cash also caused a stir when he released his song based on the Shel Silverstein poem “A Boy Named Sue.” His lyrics were infamously censored when the singer crooned, “Cause I’m the son-of-a-b**** that named you “Sue.’”
6. Dixie Chicks bare all
The Dixie Chicks are no strangers to feuds. Toby Keith, George Bush anyone?
They shocked fans with their nude Entertainment Weekly cover in 2003. The statement-making spread came shortly after the girl band were shunned from country music after they said they were ashamed of the president.
“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all,” they said at a concert in London. “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”
Many fans have still not forgotten the groups’ controversial words, but considering they won 5 Grammy Awards for their subsequent album in 2006, we’d say they were forgiven.
7. Luke Bryan gets dissed
Country music singers usually support each other, but Zac Brown Band lead singer of the same name only had harsh words for Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night.”
When Zac Brown called the single the “worst song I’ve ever heard” and said “There’s songs out there on the radio right now that make me be ashamed to be even in the same format as some other artists,” Bryan’s famous friends came to his defense.
“To those people runnin’ their mouths, trust me when I tell you that nobody gives a s— what you think,” Aldean wrote on Instagram.
The two eventually made up when at the 2013 CMA Awards Carrie Underwood told the singers had nothing to fight about.
“You both made great records and you’re both millionaires,” she sang to the tune of “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”
8. Pushing the envelope
Pioneering female country singers Lynn and Wells both released tunes with lyrics that made listeners blush.
Lynn’s tune about the birth control pill was too risqué for the 1970s audience and was banned on many radio stations in the country.
“Miniskirts, hotpants and a few little fancy frills / Yeah I’m making up for all those years since I’ve got the pill,” Lynn sang in her song “The Pill.”
Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angel” gave voice to married women in American who were fed up with their cheating husbands. Her statement was daring during a time where the music industry was dominated by men.
The singer was banned from singing her hit single on the Grand Ole Opry stage and NBC radio also barred the tune from its airwaves.
“It wasn’t God who made Honky Tonk angels,” she sang. “As you said in the words of your song/Too many times married men think they’re still single/That has caused many a good girl to go wrong.”
Although Wells’ lyrics don’t seem controversial by today’s standards, they pushed the envelope in 1952.
9. Jason Aldean’s “Idol” Night
Aldean is hardly the first country singer to have an affair but when TMZ released photos of the married artist getting hot and heavy with “American Idol” alum Brittany Kerr in LA, fans voiced their disappoint with Aldean.
“The truth is that I screwed up. I had too much to drink, let the party get out of hand and acted inappropriately at a bar,” he wrote to fans via his Facebook page.
Aldean and his high school sweetheart Jessica Ussery filed for divorce six months later and the “When She Says Baby” singer is reportedly still linked to Kerr.
10. Billy Joe Shaver shooting
Outlaw country singer Billy Joe Shaver was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm in a prohibited place in 2007.
Shaver’s arrest came after witnesses saw the singer shoot Billy Bryant Coker in the face with a handgun. Shaver claimed he fired in self defense while Coker told police the attack was unprovoked.
Shaver was eventually acquitted in 2010 but the incident remains fresh in the minds of his fans.
11. Billy Ray Cyrus’ ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ sequel
Billy Ray took a page out of his daughter’s playbook and released a vulgar remix of his fan favorite “Achy Breaky Heart.”
His video featured nearly-naked women and it did not receive positive reviews in the country music world.
“One critic wrote out there that it made Miley’s VMA performance look like ‘Sesame Street. That’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever been given,” he told The Tennessean. “I was still skeptical, but when the video came out one of the critics wrote, ‘It’s only been out six hours and it’s already 2014′s worst song.’ When I heard that, I knew I nailed it.”
We’re not sure what Billy Ray has to be proud of.