The Country Music Association made a big show of branding their 54th annual award ceremony on Wednesday night (11/11) as having "no drama, just music," but the tagline, which they tweeted a week ago, blew up in their face entirely. Among their offenses was snubbing the legendary John Prine, who passed away from COVID complications back in April. Sturgill Simpson, who has been critical of the awards before (particularly for their would-be apolitical stance in the face of important issues), took to social media to blast them for neglecting to mention his friend and mentor.

"Don’t get it twisted,..," he wrote, alongside a video where he mentions the two words the show didn't say... John and Prine. "Wouldn’t be caught dead at this tacky ass glitter and botox cake & cock pony show even if my chair had a morphine drip. I just wanted to see if they would...nope. No time for Buddha."

"Good on ya AP!," he continued, supporting the Associated Press in their move to drop coverage of the awards, after not being allowed to send their own photographers, or post screencaps of the crowd. "Its time for this hegemonic horse shit ship to sink and for that to happen the music press needs to ask and demand answers to the hard questions instead of depending on those of us outside the box for the 'tasty quote machine' answers. And if the guitars look worn folks its not from’s from all the freshly scratched off rebel flag stickers."

Prine's label, Oh Boy Records, also shared a statement, writing, "We’re disappointed John won’t be a part of the CMA award show tonight. Country music was both the inspiration and foundation for his songwriting and performing. While there may be a number of artists who have had more commercial success than John, there are very few who have achieved more artistically."

Another friend and collaborator of both Prine and Sturgill, Margo Price, also blasted the awards on social media, where she recommended people watch Sturgill's recent "Breakers Roar" performance instead of the awards. "Want to hear some good country music tonight, look no further!," she wrote on Twitter, sharing a link to a Rolling Stone article with the video.

Margo had a lot more to say about the CMAs, too. Responding to their "no drama, just music" message last week, she tweeted, "once again, the CMA’s are censoring/white washing their show but who’s surprised? anyone still participating is a socially unconscious pawn. artists pander woke authenticity when it benefits them and then sit in silence as they collect their plastic trophies. also the music sucks."

She continued:

A few days later, Margo commented on another controversial aspect of the CMAs: its proximity to coronavirus cases spiking across the country. "So let me get this straight," she tweeted, "covid cases are at an all time high, the CMA’s are holding an event INSIDE where they censor what you talk about if it doesn’t fit their narrative... the dude from Lady Antebellum is performing & bro from Florida Georgia Line tested positive for covid."

Lady A, fka Lady Antebellum, wound up not performing after one of their immediate family members tested positive for the virus:

As for Florida Georgia Line, one half of the duo, Tyler Hubbard, bowed out of the ceremony after testing positive for COVID, putting a stop to their planned performance. Rascall Flatts, fiddler Jenee Fleenor, and Lee Brice also cancelled performances because of their coronavirus status. Florida Georgia Line have also been in the midst of some drama of their own due to opposing political views within the band.

Despite all of that, the show went on, and you can watch performances of Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert, and Maren Morris below.

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