The ACM Awards Didn’t Have an Entertainer of the Year Category for the First 5 Years
Sure, every awards show grows and changes over time. But did you know that the ACM Awards didn't even have an Entertainer of the Year category for the first five years of the ceremony's existence? That's right: What has come to be arguably the most prestigious honor of the annual event didn't even exist when country music's oldest awards show celebrated its first year.
In fact, at the first official ACM Awards show in 1966, the lack of Entertainer of the Year category wasn't the only thing separating those early years from the televised event country fans know and love today. Instead of Entertainer of the Year, artists vied for the honor of Man of the Year. No awards were given out for Song, Single or Album of the Year during that first event, either.
When Entertainer of the Year did become a category in 1971, Merle Haggard was the first artist of ever take home the trophy. He won that year's Male Vocalist of the Year award, too.
However, there was one category back then that the Academy has since retired: In the early '70s, the ACMs included an award for Country Comedy Act. With three trophies to his name, Roy Clark notched that title more times than any other artist.
Not only did the first ACM Awards dole out completely different prizes, but they also lacked the excitement of live television: The cameras didn't show up until 1972, when the show partnered with ABC to broadcast the event.
The ACM Awards show has seen plenty of twists and turns since it launched over five decades ago, but the history of the ACMs has even more twists and turns to it. To learn about Reba McEntire's long history as host, as well as which artists have won the most times, press play above to watch this episode of The Secret History of Country Music, from The Boot's partner site, Taste of Country.
The 2022 ACM Awards will take place at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium on Monday (March 7) at 8 PM ET. For the first time since 1972, the ceremony will not air on network television, but will be available to stream live on Amazon Prime Video. Dolly Parton will co-host the show with the 2021 New Male and Female Artists of the Year, Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett.
LOOK: Every ACM Awards Entertainer of the Year Winner Ever