The thunder rolled and the lightning struck during the recording of ACM Presents: Superstar Duets, but nothing could stop the show from going on.
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The two-hour special, which airs tonight (May 15th) at 9 p.m. ET on CBS, was filmed at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on April 17th and 18th, the two nights preceding the Academy of Country Music Awards. Severe thunderstorms and high winds delayed the proceedings for up to three hours each night at the stadium, home to Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers, as tens of thousands of rain-drenched fans waited out the storms to see some of their favorite artists team with their musical heroes.
Among the pairings: Keith Urban and John Anderson, Luke Bryan and Ronnie Milsap, Sam Hunt and Dwight Yoakam, Miranda Lambert and Patty Loveless, Eli Young Band and Alabama, Lady Antebellum and Brandy Clark, and Hunter Hayes and Brett Eldredge.
“Waiting out the rain delay wasn’t hard for us,” Hayes told Rolling Stone Country. “I’m applauding all the fans who stayed. They not only stayed, I think they were more excited when we got back on stage than [if we had started on time]. The energy amped up big time.”
Hayes and Eldredge performed a medley of Marty Robbins classics, including “El Paso,” “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation” and “Big Iron.”
“At the time, Marty was considered a crossover success,” Hayes says of the Fifties and Sixties superstar. “It tells how much country music stories can go all over to all genres, to all different people [and] bring them to country music. He had a way of transporting you to a place that was special in the three minutes and 30 seconds of a song.”
Similarly, Dierks Bentley, Kip Moore and Ashley Monroe joined together to pay tribute to Waylon Jennings, opening with “Good Ol’ Boys.” “We had to do that song,” Bentley said. “It was my first exposure to country music from watching The Dukes of Hazzard on TV. I had a shirt that said ‘Dierks of Hazzard’ on the back. I was obsessed.”
“We all respect Waylon so much, we wanted to do the best we could,” Monroe said, joking that she got a little concerned as the weather delay stretched on. “All the dudes came and were trying to outdrink each other. I was like, ‘You better hold it together. We can’t get up there and sing drunk.'”
For the Band Perry, performing “Strawberry Wine” with the song’s co-writer, Deana Carter, was a personal and professional high point. “‘Strawberry Wine’ is the song we credit with making us want to be country music singers,” said Kimberly Perry. “When we brought that out to the crowd, it was just a really special moment. We’ve talked about recutting it.”
Superstar Duets follows in the tradition of other themed specials that CBS has taped the weekend of the ACMs to take advantage of having so much talent in one place. Past specials include salutes to George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Lionel Richie and the women of country music.
Other pairings for tonight’s Superstar Duets include Clint Black and Joe Nichols, Sara Evans and Darius Rucker, Alan Jackson and Cole Swindell, and Reba and Brooks and Dunn, as well as special performances by Kenny Chesney, Brantley Gilbert, and Jake Owen. Water damaged Eric Church and Florida Georgia Line’s equipment, forcing them to cancel their appearances.
See our exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from ACM Presents: Superstar Duets taping here.