Why Didn’t Johnny Cash Ever Win an ACM Award?

by Courtney Blackann

He pretty much solidified his place in country music and defined an entire era in the 1960s. But that doesn’t mean Johnny Cash reaped all the acclaim that came with those facts. The country artist, in fact, never won an ACM award. But there’s a very specific reason why.

The ACM awards, or the Academy of Country Music awards, began in 1966 – well after Johnny Cash burst through the seams of country music. Yet the “Walk the Line” singer was never nominated for a single one. This isn’t a new concept. We’ve seen plenty of musical talents as well as actors who’ve been looked over for several prestigious awards. It took Leonardo DiCaprio literally fending off bears and dragging himself through pure hell in order to finally get that Oscar he deserved well before “The Revenant.” So what happened with Johnny Cash?

According to The Boot, the ACM awards were intended for country artists along the west coast. This includes 13 states in the west. It was meant to celebrate “West Coast country” as opposed to deep-rooted southern soul. This is most likely the reason that Cash’s major hits were never awarded, despite his fame and popularity.

The heavily California-focused awards honored legends like Merle Haggard and Buck Owens due to their ties to California. And the ceremony was also located in the greater Los Angeles area before moving to Las Vegas in 2003.

Since 1966, however, the ACMs broadened to include country artists from all over. This year’s awards show will take place tonight at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium at 8 PM ET. It will be available to stream on Amazon Prime with Dolly Parton, Gabby Barrett and Jimmie Allen hosting.

Johnny Cash Recalls Relationship with Elvis Presley in Autobiography

During his lifetime, Johnny Cash racked up a number of awards and records, embedding himself as one of the greats. Later in life he wrote a book called “Cash: The Autobiography” where he discussed his personal life, career and fame. He also talked about his relationship with another legend in Elvis Presley.

Cash recalled that he respected the actor and tried to give him privacy when he pulled away from the spotlight later in his career.

“He and I liked each other, but we weren’t that tight – I was older than he was, for one thing, and married, for another – and we weren’t close at all in his later years,” Cash wrote. “I took the hint when he closed his world around him; I didn’t try to invade his privacy. I’m so glad I didn’t, either, because so many of his old friends were embarrassed so badly when they were turned away at Graceland. In the ’60s and ’70s he and I chatted on the phone a couple of times and swapped notes now and again. If he were closing at the Las Vegas Hilton as I was getting ready to open, he’d wish me luck, that kind of thing – but that was about the extent of it.”

Country Icon Remembers a Young Elvis

He went on to add: “I’ve heard it said that here at the end of the century, we all have our own Elvis; and I can appreciate that idea, even though my Elvis was my friend, flesh and blood in real life. Certainly, though, my Elvis was the Elvis of the ’50s. He was a kid when I worked with him. He was nineteen years old, and he loved cheeseburgers, girls, and his mother, not necessarily in that order. It was more like his mother, then girls, then cheeseburgers. Personally, I liked cheeseburgers and I had nothing against his mother, but the girls were the thing. He had so many girls after him that whenever he was working with us, there were always plenty left over.”