Biggest Scandals in Country Music

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Randy Travis Arrested Drunk and Naked

1 Night. 1 Place. 1 Time: A Heroes & Friends Tribute to Randy Travis
Randy Travis. Getty Images for Outback Concert / Getty Images

In August 2012, Randy Travis was arrested after he reportedly crashed his car through construction barricades, and then stopped at a convenience store for cigarettes. According to the store owner, Travis didn't have the money to pay for the cigarettes; he was also completely nude.

The country singer was charged with driving while intoxicated and felony retaliation (for allegedly threatening the lives of highway patrol officers who arrived on the scene).

This wasn't Travis's first trouble with the law. In February 2012, he pleaded no contest to charges of public intoxication. Police had found him in his car with an open bottle of wine, parked in front of a church.

"I apologize for what resulted following an evening of celebrating the Super Bowl," Travis said in a prepared statement. "I'm committed to being responsible and accountable, and apologize for my actions."

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Glen Campbell Arrested for DUI

In 2003, country singer Glen Campbell had a run-in with the law in Phoenix, Arizona. According to police, he was driving drunk and hit a car at an intersection. He left the scene of the accident, and when confronted kneed a police officer in the thigh. According to Sgt. Randy Force, Campbell sang his hit "Rhinestone Cowboy" in his cell in the incident's aftermath. The singer pled guilty to DUI and leaving the scene of an accident. He spent 10 days in jail and agreed to carry out community service.

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Willie Nelson Busted for Marijuana

In 2006, Willie Nelson's tour bus was pulled over by police in Louisiana. Inside, they found 1.5 pounds of marijuana and a bag of psychedelic mushrooms. The country singer pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession. The court levied a fine of $1,024 and put Nelson on probation for six months.

Nelson was busted again in November 2010, this time in Texas. The marijuana stash was smaller: six ounces.

Rapper Snoop Dogg was among those who came to Nelson's defense. "If you got a problem with Willie Nelson, you got a problem with me!" he told TMZ.

The pair later collaborated on "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," from Nelson's 2012 album Heroes.

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The Dixie Chicks Put Down the President, Feud with Toby Keith

Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines decided to speak to the crowd at a March 2003 London concert. "Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas."

When her words were reported, controversy erupted among country fans -- and supporters of President George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq. Angry listeners called up radio stations, asking them to take the Dixie Chicks out of rotation. Many programmers responded to audience demand.

"We've got them off the air for right now," said Jeff Garrison, program director at the Houston station KILT. "People are shocked. They cannot believe Texas's own have attacked the state and the president."

Toby Keith entered the fray when Maines criticized Keith's song "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue."

"I hate it," the Dixie Chick said to the Los Angeles Daily News. "It's ignorant, and it makes country music sound ignorant."

Keith responded by displaying a photo with Maines's head cropped onto the body of Saddam Hussein at concerts.

Maines kept the fire fueled. At the 2003 ACM Awards, she wore a T-shirt featuring the acronym "FUTK." The last two letters stood for "Toby Keith."

The Dixie Chicks's trials and tribulations were documented in the 2006 documentary Shut Up & Sing. The same year, the group released Taking the Long Way, the Chicks' first new album since the controversy. It was a success by any measure, selling over two million copies.

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Billy Joe Shaver Shoots Somebody in the Face

In March 2007, Billy Joe Shaver shot Billy Bryant Coker in the face outside a bar in Lorena, Texas. Shaver used a light caliber .22 pistol, and -- lucky for Shaver -- Coker survived.

The country singer claimed that he had been defending his life.

"I felt he was gonna kill me," Shaver told a court in 2011. He explained that Coker, who had been rude to his then-wife Wanda, brandished a knife inside the bar and asked Shaver to step outside. "He was a big bully, the worst I ever seen -- a big bad one. And I been all around the world."

Outside, witnesses reported that Shaver asked Coker, "Where do you want it?" He then shot him and fled the scene.

All the same, the jury acquitted Shaver of aggravated assault charges.

Afterward, Dale Watson wrote a song about the shooting called "Where Do You Want It?"

Shaver denies he ever asked such a question, and later penned his own song about the event called "Wacko From Waco."

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Spade Cooley Murders Wife

Spade Cooley was one of the kings of Western Swing until the night of April 3, 1961, when he beat his wife Ella Mae Cooley to death in front of the couple's 14-year-old daughter.

Cooley insisted that Ella had fallen in the shower.

"There was a terrible thud," he said at the trial. "I rubbed her wrists, breathed in her mouth, put cold towels on her head, and I prayed."

The trial received plenty of media attention -- not least because of testimony about Ella Mae's alleged love affair with Roy Rogers.

On August 21, Cooley was convicted of first-degree murder.

The country singer served his time at California's Vacaville prison and was reportedly a model prisoner. Governor Ronald Reagan, who would later give a pardon to Merle Haggard, pulled strings to get Cooley granted parole. In 1969, four months before his release date, he was allowed to play at a benefit concert in Oakland. Cooley died of a heart attack in the wings of the stage.

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George Jones Gets Arrested and Irate

George Jones's longstanding substance abuse problems were brought to the public eye in 1980 ​when he was arrested for drunk driving. The arrest was captured on video for posterity. Jones looked disheveled and struggled repeatedly with police officers.

The upshot was Jones's friends, including Hank Williams Jr., talked to the singer about cleaning up his act. In response, the country singer went to rehab in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Taylor Swift Gets Muted at the MTV Video Music Awards

Taylor Swift won Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards and she walked to the stage to claim the award. Her fellow nominees stayed in their seats and clapped. Most of them.

The exception was rapper and producer Kanye West, who bounded onstage, grabbed the mic from Swift, and stated his case. "I'm sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time."

His bravado didn't go over so well. West got booed by the crowd. And when Beyoncé won Video of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," she gave some of her time to Swift so the country singer had a chance to speak.

The ensuing brouhaha made for plenty of fodder for cable news and blogs. Op-eds about the lack of etiquette in today's society appeared in daily papers. Even President Obama weighed in on the controversy. "I thought that was really inappropriate," the president said. "You know it was like she's getting an award -- why are you butting in? What's he doing up there? He's a jackass."

In her usual fashion, Swift got back by writing a song about West.

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Hank Jr. Compares President Obama to Hitler

"Do you remember...the golf game they had?" Hank Williams Jr. asked Fox & Friends anchors on October 3, 2011, referring to a match played between President Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

"That was one of the biggest political mistakes ever!" the country singer said. "It [would] be like Hitler playing Golf with Netanyahu!"

It's an understatement to say that many people didn't approve of the singer's comparison.

In response to his comments, Hank Jr.'s long-standing theme song for Monday Night Football was pulled from the broadcast.

Hank Jr. claimed in a statement that he was the victim of a misunderstanding. "Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood. My analogy was extreme -- but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me -- how ludicrous that pairing was."

Hank Jr. later lashed out at Fox News with the song "Keep the Change." He also did a bit of fence-mending with a comedic appearance at the 2011 CMA Awards.

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Jason Aldean Cheats on Wife

On September 26, 2012, Jason Aldean was photographed at the Los Angeles bar The Den hugging and kissing American Idol contestant Brittany Kerr. Aldean was married at the time and had two children. The photographs were published by the gossip website TMZ.

Days later, the singer of "I Break Everything I Touch" apologized for his actions.

"Hey Guys – I wanted to talk to you directly, so you were hearing the truth from me," he wrote on Twitter. "The truth is that I screwed up. I had too much to drink, let the party get out of hand and acted inappropriately at a bar. I left alone, caught the bus to our next show and that's the end of the story. I ultimately ended up embarrassing my family and myself. I'm not perfect, and I'm sorry for disappointing you guys."

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Country Singer Chely Wright Comes Out as Gay

Chely Wright had dated Brad Paisley, scored the #1 country hit "Single White Female," and had six albums to her name when, in 2010, she publicly came out as a lesbian.

She had been struggling with her sexuality for some time. "There had never, ever been a country music artist who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality," she told People. "I wasn't going to be the first."

After coming out of the closet to family members, Chely decided it was time to go public in 2010. The same year, she released the album Lifted Off the Ground and the autobiography Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer.

According to the book, songwriter John Rich was among those who didn't agree with Wright's decision. "You know, that's not cool, if you've chosen to live that kind of lifestyle," she recalls him telling her. "Fans won't have it. This industry won't allow it."

A documentary detailing her struggles, Chely Wright: Wish Me Away, was released in 2011.