Remember When Vince Gill Defended the Dixie Chicks After the George W. Bush Controversy?
The Dixie Chicks lost a massive amount of support from fellow country artists during the 2003 backlash over comments Natalie Maines made about then-President George W. Bush, but they did have one ally still in their corner. Vince Gill repeatedly went to bat for the trio during a period when they found few friendly faces in country music.
The backlash came after one of the most controversial moments in country music history. On March 10, 2003, the Chicks were playing a concert in London during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and Maines took a moment to speak out about it.
"Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all," Maines said. "We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas."
The backlash back in the U.S. was swift and severe. Country radio stations all across the country dropped the Chicks' songs, and some hosted events in which country fans destroyed their CDs. The fallout from those remarks would change the group's career forever, and other country stars including Reba McEntire, Tanya Tucker and Darryl Worley would differ with them publicly over the remarks, while Maines and Toby Keith would engage in a protracted public feud.
Gill took the stage to present the award for Entertainer of the Year at the 2003 ACM Awards, and when he read the Dixie Chicks' name as one of the nominees, the crowd began to boo. Vince responded by chastising the audience.
Entertainment Weekly reports that Gill said, "Stop it, stop it," adding, "You know who gets blessed when you forgive: You."
He took up for the group again in April of 2003 at the CMT Flameworthy Awards.
"There's political leaders that's said a lot worse things about George Bush than Natalie did. Nobody rips them for it, you know?" Gill reflected. "I kind of feel like she's been bashed enough."
Later that month, Gill clarified that he was defending Maines' right to free speech, not agreeing with her comments.
"It's pretty imperative that I communicate that I held the completely opposite view of Natalie Maines," People quotes the country legend as saying. "The troops and the president don't have a bigger supporter than me."
That's just one of the stories Taste of Country uncovered in a recent episode of in the new video series The Secret History of Country Music. Each Monday, Taste of Country News host Ania Hammar takes fans deeper inside the stories of country music's biggest hits, moments and figures.
Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood and Kid Rock are among the artists already featured, and episodes about Gretchen Wilson and more are still to come. Be sure to subscribe to Taste of Country's YouTube channel so you never miss a new episode.
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The Nastiest Feuds in Country Music History