13 best moments in Academy of Country Music Awards history
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The Academy of Country Music Awards has honored the biggest and brightest stars in country music for more than five decades. Country music lovers also count on the ACMs to deliver the hottest performances from their favorite stars each year.

The first ACM Awards ceremony took place in 1966, with the first television broadcast of the event airing in 1972. Decades later, the country music extravaganza continues to dazzle fans across the country. In 2015, the ACM Awards ceremony set a Guinness World Record for the Most Attended Awards Show, with 70,252 attendees.

Related —5 reasons we love the Academy of Country Music Awards

Dubbed “Country Music’s Party of the Year,” the celebration rocks Las Vegas with a weeklong series of ACM-related events. Tickets to attend the 54th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards live ceremony at the MGM Grand Garden Arena are on sale now at AXS. Follow this link to grab tickets now.

Some of the biggest moments in the country music genre have happened on the ACM Awards stage. We’re looking back at 13 of the best moments in Academy of Country Music Awards history below.

1. Loretta Lynn becomes the first female to win Entertainer of the Year (1975)

Loretta Lynn is one of the most celebrated and decorated artists in country music history. She’s scored a career total 13 ACM Awards including becoming the first female artist to ever win an Academy of Country Music Award for Entertainer of the Year at the ACM Awards ceremony in 1975. Today, she’s a living legend with a five-decade-plus career.

2. Carrie Underwood and Steven Tyler perform “Walk This Way” (2011)

She’s more than a little bit country and he’s definitely more than a little bit rock ‘n roll! Carrie Underwood teamed up with rock legend Steven Tyler at the 2011 ACM Awards for an amazing performance of “Undo It/Walk this Way.” Underwood is pretty much America’s country music darling. She tapped into her edgy rock side by sporting some neon pink tips on her long blonde locks and belted out the “Walk this way!” chorus like a true rock diva.

3. All-star Salute to Buck Owens (2006)

Country music legend Buck Owens scored a whopping 21 chart-topping hits in his five-decade-plus career. He sadly passed away in 2006. Dwight Yoakam led an all-star tribute to Owens, which included Brad Paisley, ZZ Top member Billy Gibbons, actor Vince Vaughn, Owens’ son Buddy Alan and more. It was a standout moment of the night and in ACM history.

4. John Fogerty joins Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert for “Travelin’ Band” (2010)

Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert opened the 2010 ACM Awards with a rocking rendition of the iconic Creedence Clearwater Revival hit “Travelin’ Band.” CCR frontman John Fogerty penned the hit in 1970 and made the awards show performance extra special by joining the girls onstage. Brad Paisley and Charlie Daniels also joined in to make it an epic, unforgettable ACM opener.

5. Ray Charles and George Jones perform “We Didn’t See a Thing” duet (1984)

Ray Charles and George Jones were giants in their own genres. They shared a mutual respect for one another and came together to deliver an unforgettable duet of “We Didn’t see a Thing” at the ACM Awards in 1984. They joked and laughed throughout the performance, with Charles at the piano and Jones behind the mic.

6. Taylor Swift wins New Female Vocalist 2008

Today, Taylor Swift is one of the biggest female music artists in the world. Rewinding to 2008, she won her first ACM Award (out of eight career total) for New Female Vocalist of the Year. In her humble acceptance speech, she thanked her mom, for giving up her life “to go on the road with her 16-year-old daughter.” With six critically-acclaimed albums and hundreds of awards under her belt, Swift’s adoring international fan base can undoubtedly look back on this moment and thank her mother for every sacrifice too.

7. Alabama makes ACM return, joining Brad Paisley for “Old Alabama” performance (2011)

Alabama delighted fans everywhere when they came out of retirement to perform “Old Alabama” with Brad Paisley at the 2011 ACM Awards. The band had planned to stop making music in 2004. They put together a benefit concert in the same year for tornado victims in Alabama. They followed up their ACM appearance by touring for their 40th anniversary two years later in 2013.

8. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill win Top Vocal Event for “It’s Your Love” (1997)

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw remain one of country music’s power couples. They were still relatively newly-married in 1997 and swept every major ACM category for their romantic ballad “It’s Your Love” in 1997, including Vocal Event of the Year. Hill was notably pregnant at the ceremony, which made it even more special and endearing to their fans.

9. Taylor Swift meets Tim McGraw for the first time for her ACM performance (2007)

Taylor Swift launched her multi-million-dollar career with a tender ballad, notably named “Tim McGraw.” She made her ACM debut performance in 2007 with the song and met McGraw for the first time. Her shy greeting and shake of his hand saying, “Hi, I’m Taylor” remains one of the most memorable moments in ACM history. Neither artist could probably predict how high Big Machine’s first artist’s star would rise.

10. Katy Perry and Dolly Parton perform a medley (2016)

Pop superstar Katy Perry channeled her inner country diva by joining the legendary Dolly Parton to perform a medley of her biggest hits at the ACM Awards in 2016. Perry looked genuinely starstruck singing next to Parton in a cute, country-western outfit. They sang “Coat of Many Colors,” “Jolene,” and more.

11. Carrie Underwood delivers emotional “Cry Pretty” performance (2018)

Carrie Underwood made a triumphant return to the stage performing “Cry Pretty” at the 2018 ACM Awards. The performance marked her first since a devastating injury to her face and wrists following a fall. Silver glitter tears were painted beneath her eyes and she became emotional during the critically-acclaimed performance.

12. The Judds win Top Vocal Duet of the Year (1991)

Mother and daughter duo Naomi and Wynonna Judd formed The Judds in 1983. They went on to receive multiple awards, including nine ACM Awards and five Grammy Awards. They won Top Vocal Duet in 1991 (which was one of seven total wins in the category). They were on the brink of disbanding and used the moment to bid an emotional goodbye to the Academy. The Judds’ heartfelt farewell marked a bittersweet, memorable moment in country music and ACM history.

13. Miranda Lambert makes ACM history, performs “Keeper of the Flame” (2018)

Miranda Lambert proved some ties are made to be broken when she became the artist with the most ACM Awards in history in 2018. ACM host Reba McEntire revealed Lambert was tied with Brooks & Dunn (with 29 wins each) heading into last year’s ceremony. She scored three more wins for a staggering career total of 32 ACM trophies. Lambert delivered a fiery performance of “Keeper of the Flame” to seal the momentous occasion.