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Country’s Classic Charlie Rich-John Denver Burn Hits YouTube, Finally

Charlie Rich, John Denver, 1975 Country Music Awards, lighter, card, burn, video

A notorious moment in country music history recently resurfaced online. Charlie Rich, who won the Country Music Assocation Awards’ Entertainer of the Year honors in 1974, was presenting the award at 1975’s ceremony, and when the winner turned out to be John Denver, he — wait for it — (w … a … i … t …) set the name card on fire right there on stage. Denver beat out Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Ronnie Milsap, and Conway Twitty.

The affably bespectacled “Leaving on a Jet Plane” singer, accepting the award live via satellite while the other nominees were actually present in the room, gave his thank-you speech as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Rightly or not, the incident went down as a defense of traditional country music against pop usurpers, and Rich’s career fell into decline. As Country Music Nation points out, the inflammatory event has now at long last arrived on YouTube, and you can watch it above.

Sorry, Kanye West, but this is the harshest award-show scene-stealing of (we’ll let you finish).