CMA Awards 1970: Kris Kristofferson Delivers Painfully Shy Acceptance Speech For Song Of The Year

Kris Kristofferson CMA Awards

The annual CMA Awards are swiftly approaching. And while we have been sharing many jaw-dropping moments over the decades the esteemed award show has occurred, this one takes a lighter stance.

In 1970, during the third annual CMA Awards, Kris Kristofferson took home the Song of the Year award.

While I’m sure you, as the reader, are at this point thinking, “Yes, we all know he took home the award.” But the real story comes from behind the camera, explaining why Kristofferson was so shy when giving his speech.

The song that brought him the award was “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” famously recorded by Johnny Cash for his album The Johnny Cash Show. 

Back in that day, the awards were still held at the Ryman Auditorium (the home of the Grand Ole Opry at the time), and Kristofferson was not expected to win the award. Hell, the CMA was not expecting Kristofferson to win the award, so they sat him in the very back of the Opry house.

On the TV screen, viewers saw a man who looked clearly uncomfortable being anywhere but behind a guitar as he shyly accepted his award. Still, behind the camera, the tale says that Kristofferson was so shocked he nearly knocked himself out. After Roy Clark called his name, he snapped back in the pew chair, nearly knocking himself out. Marty Robbins, seated nearby, urged Kristofferson to get moving as he had a long way to get to the stage.

Still in shock and clearly not dressed to accept an award, he waltzed up onstage to accept in jeans, a white t-shirt, and a suede jacket.

“Appreciate it, Roy…”

He says as he looks down into the mic, not addressing the crowd.

“I think Marty and Merle must’ve been laying out. I want to thank Johnny Cash, and I’m glad I wasn’t against ‘The Day I Started Loving You Again.'” 

He saunters away after he takes his trophy.

Reflecting back on the moment, watching himself up on stage to accept his award, Kristofferson later said:

“I haven’t figured out what the hell I’m doing up on the stage because I’m basically uncomfortable doing it.”

Nevertheless, comfortable or not, Kris Kristofferson had finally kicked down the door of country music. He was one of the greatest songwriters of our generation, winning his first notable award.

If you aren’t familiar with “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” listen and see why it deserved this award.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock