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Skaggs Takes Top Honor at Country Music Awards

October 15, 1985

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A misty-eyed Ricky Skaggs, who dropped out of high school in the 12th grade to play music full time, won the prestigious entertainer of the year award Monday night from the Country Music Association.

Skaggs received the honor, and one other, during the nationally televised CMA awards show at the Grand Ole Opry.

His award broke a three-year hold on the top honor by Alabama, a four-piece band who sought an unprecedented fourth straight selection.

″It looks awful good out there, but this looks better,″ Skaggs said as he looked at the award and choked back sobs.

His band also was voted top instrumental group.

Skaggs, of Louisa, Ky., has had nine No. 1 hits, including ″Country Boy″ in June and ″Uncle Pen″ a year ago. He dropped out of school in 1971, needing one credit for a high school diploma, and left his Appalachian mountain home to become a performer.

Awards were presented in 12 categories at the CBS televised show hosted by Anne Murray and singer-songwriter-actor Kris Kristofferson.

George Strait, a former foreman of a Texas cattle ranch, won male vocalist of the year and album of the year for ″Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind.″

″I’ll never forget this night as long as I live,″ Strait said in receiving the award for top male vocalist.

The mother-daughter duo, the Judds, also were double winners, winning single of the year for ″Why Not Me?″ and vocal group of the year.

″I’ve been given the opportunity to fulfill every dream I’ve ever had,″ said daughter Wynonna, who thanked her mother.

″We are just plain eat up with our music,″ Noami Judd added in her acceptance speech.

Reba McEntire was voted female vocalist of the year for the second straight time. ″I like to sing better than eat,″ she said in receiving the award. She paused, then added, ″No, that’s not right.″

Banjoist Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt, who were bluegrass pioneers, became the 43rd and 44th members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Flatt died in 1979.

Flatt, who died in 1979, and Scruggs teamed from 1945 until 1969 and are best-known for their song, ″Foggy Mountain Breakdown,″ which was background music in the movie, ″Bonnie and Clyde.″

They also played the theme song for the long-running television show, ″The Beverly Hillbillies.″

Miss Murray and Dave Loggins won the vocal duo of the year award. In receiving the award, Miss Murray called Loggins ″my very favorite voice in the whole business.″ They were honored for their hit single, ″Nobody Loves Me Like You Do.″

Other awards included: Chet Atkins, instrumentalist of the year for the eight time and the fifth straight year; Hank Williams Jr., video of the year for ″All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight″; Lee Greenwood, song of the year for his ″God Bless the USA.″

Greenwood, a former dealer in Los Vegas casinos, said ″If I never write another song, I want to remembered for this one.″

The five-member group Sawyer Brown won the Horizon award for career development. The group has appeared in concert with Kenny Rodgers and Dolly Parton for the past year and in 1984 won the national Star Search contest.

Songwriter Willie Nelson was honored by the national Future Farmers of America for organizing last month’s FarmAid in Illinois, which raised about $10 million for farmers. Nelson was presented a plaque by Steve Meredith, national president of the FFA, following a five-minute medley of many of Nelson’s greatest hits as a songwriter.

It was the year’s third televised country music awards show, following the Academy of Country Music show in May in Los Angeles and the Music City News awards program in Nashville in June.

The Country Music Association winners were chosen by 7,500 country singers, musicians, songwriters, disc jockeys and other professionals.

The awards show, broadcast on radio by the Mutual Broadcasting System, was part of more than a week of special country music activities in Nashville. The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday celebrated its 60th birthday as a live country music show. Later this week, a number of songwriting organizations will present awards to composers.

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