There was no shortage of action on the stage Sunday night at the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at Arlington, Texas's AT&T Stadium, but that's not the only place where the stars were making news. Rolling Stone Country captured some revealing off-camera moments, ranging from Luke Bryan and Hunter Hayes making candid, somewhat embarrassing admissions to Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild tallying up her hotel mini-bar bill. Here are 11 ACM Awards moments you didn't see on TV.
ACM co-host and Entertainer of the Year winner Luke Bryan prides himself on accommodating his fans when it comes to taking photos, but he shared backstage that he botched an opportunity during the evening. "I'm sitting in my [dressing] room and I have my guys who kind of look after me. [Taya Kyle, wife of American Sniper author Chris Kyle] peeks her head in the curtain and she goes, 'Can I get a selfie?' and my guy goes, 'No, no no, not right now.' . . . I was mortified that we didn't recognize her right off the bat and that it went down the way it did. So a couple of the guys that work for me, I'm like, 'You go out there and you find that woman.' My thing is be accessible to fans. I know a lot of baseball players and the term is never try to 'big league' anybody and I accidentally big leagued her. We made up for it. I've got pictures of her and her kids, I told her how amazing the movie is and their story is and I apologized. I had egg on my face big time."
The day before the ACMs, Trisha Yearwood was in High Point, North Carolina, debuting her 80-piece furniture collection through Klaussner Home Furnishings. Yearwood, who also recently launched a line of cookware, already had her eye on another possible business venture, and it's quite the departure. "Women's underwear," she revealed to Rolling Stone Country. "Shapewear for a woman that is not a size zero. I think I could do it because I think I've worn every piece of undergarment that doesn't work. I really do, at some point in my life, want to do that because I feel like I've tried everything."
Miranda Lambert, who took home three awards, including Song and Album of the Year, and husband Blake Shelton usually look forward to awards shows as a chance to spend time together. Not so with the ACMs since Shelton co-hosts the event. "I haven't seen Blake at all today, it's kind of funny. We passed in the hall a few times," Lambert said backstage. Nor could she rate her husband's hosting duties. "I don't have any clue how he did. I don't have a clue about how anyone did because I couldn't hear a thing. My recommendation for the next time if [the ACMS are] here is have monitors for the artists so we can hear what's going on. But he's hilarious; I'm sure he did amazing."
Trisha Yearwood's presence caused quite a case of pre-performance jitters for Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild before the band took the stage to sing "Girl Crush" and then capture the trophy for Vocal Group of the Year. "I had to talk myself down from the ledge before I sang 'Girl Crush' because I was thinking about Trisha," she said backstage. "Trisha was sitting right in front of us all night and I love her so much. . . and I was thinking, 'I have to zone out and not think about Trisha.'" Meanwhile, the band members' children were zoning out at the hotel, costing their parents money. "They think the mini bar is free," Fairchild continued. "Because of catering and being on tour, they think they can walk into a hotel room and take the $15 Kit Kat. So that's what they're doing at the hotel. They're eating $15 Kit Kats."
Hunter Hayes still hasn't come down from performing "The Dance" at the ACM Lifting Lives gala on April 17th with Garth Brooks and Keith Urban — even if he missed a few lyrics. But that's only because he got choked-up at the fact he was on the stage with, well, Garth Brooks. "I did miss a few lyrics. And it's not because I don't know the song. I can assure you that. That was my biggest fear. I walked off stage and I thought, 'God, he's going to think I don't know the song," he told Rolling Stone Country on the red carpet. "I was deeply honored to get to check that off my list, not that it was on my list because you don’t consider that very realistic. I not only got to play with Garth, I got to sing with Garth on a song that has impacted my life."
David Nail courageously came forward with his battle with depression on his current album I'm a Fire, leading his fans to share their own issues with the Missouri singer. Although in a better mindset now, Nail told Rolling Stone Country that he still struggles. "The hardest thing for me was to realize it's cool to ask for help, it's cool to need help," he said. "I'm by no means fixed. I tell my shrink all the time, 'At what point are you finally going to think I'm a lost cause, you know?' They just keep prescribing me things and eventually we're going to get the right concoction, you know. I'm going to be as happy as Luke Bryan is."
With country radio dominated by male artists right now, Reba McEntire, who won a Milestone Award for most ACMs wins for female vocalist, had a few sage words of advice for younger women coming up in their country careers. "I hope they don't get so discouraged that they quit because it is so important to realize that everything is cyclical," she said backstage. "Sometimes it's very traditional, sometimes it's very contemporary. Sometimes it's all the girls are on the radio, sometimes it's all the boys. We've had the good ole boys [on top] for a long time and I think it's fixing to change. What it's going to change into I don't know, but I hope it's more romantic and music with a lot more females in charge."
Lee Brice, whose "I Don't Dance" snagged Single of the Year, helmed one of the evening's most emotional nights: introducing Randy Travis, who is recovering from a stroke, and performing part of Travis's smash "Forever and Ever, Amen." "I was nervous to be able to sing a Randy Travis song and then turn around and see him," Brice said backstage. "It almost choked me up a little bit to be there because I grew up listening to him. When I write songs, I hold up a bar to where this song needs to be before it's done and a lot of that is partly because of [Travis's] songs, so I was honored to do that tonight."
Instead of lodging in hotels spread throughout the Dallas area, many artists, including Duo of the Year Florida Georgia Line, stayed on their buses in a special artist/crew compound at AT&T Stadium. After spending one night at a hotel, FGL's Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard joined the Compound Club. "We ended up with Jake Owen last night and [his wife] Lacey and Jason [Aldean] and his wife Brittany," Tyler said backstage. "Pretty much everybody is back there. Alan Jackson is right behind our bus. We brought him some cake last night, some crab, and then he brought us some amazing sake. The fact that we exchanged gifts with Mr. Jackson, I'm going pass out come Monday because that's pretty surreal. The compound rocks."
As Luke Bryan gave his acceptance speech for Entertainer of the Year, he was quickly joined by co-host Blake Shelton, who cut Bryan off to close the show. But Bryan insisted backstage that Shelton did not "pull a Kanye," and try to steal his buddy's moment like Kanye West infamously did to Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Awards. "No, No. The truth of the matter is all award shows run behind so when I stepped to the mic to receive my award, I had 18 seconds. I've never seen a countdown start at 18 seconds. So sharing it with Blake was what probably he was instructed to do to make sure the show ended on time. [I] wouldn't have wanted it to go any other way. . . Blake could have run out there with me and it would have been an amazing moment. He's not Kanye!"
Depending upon their football allegiances, the artists were either overjoyed to be in the stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, or feeling like an interloper. Count Eric Paslay among the former. Immediately before talking with Rolling Stone Country, he met Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and was still vibrating from the experience. "I grew up in Temple, Texas. Heck yeah, I'm a Cowboys fan," he said. "Jerry Jones said, 'It's wild how many Texas singers there are.' . . .I'm still in shock." On the opposite end was Will Hoge, who hoped to put a curse on the Cowboys. "As a kid, you had to be a Pittsburgh Steelers or a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm a Steelers fan, so I'm behind enemy lines at this point," he said. "I feel like I'm literally in the belly of the beast. Jerry Jones built a hell of a belly here. I can't wait to get inside and sprinkle around as much bad mojo as I can."