CMT Explores Country’s Most Shocking

Country pioneer Hank Williams was found dead in the back seat of a baby blue Cadillac 50 years ago. True to his word, he never got out of this world alive. But nobody expected the 29-year-old to fall victim to heart failure. Or was there more to the story?

Country’s Most Shocking, an all-new one-hour special that reveals the tragic heartbreak behind country music’s most compelling dramas.

Following a 1973 performance on the Grand Ole Opry, the beloved country comedian David “Stringbean” Akeman and his wife Estelle were brutally murdered at their rural home, devastating the entire city of Nashville. By the end of the decade, a mountain climbing expedition scarred Hank Williams Jr. for life, and Tammy Wynette endured gossip and speculation about an alleged kidnapping at a Nashville mall.

While country music icons like Johnny Cash , Barbara Mandrell and Reba McEntire narrowly escaped the clutches of death, Opry star Dottie West was not so fortunate. After struggling through turbulent marriages and bankruptcy, the original “Lesson in Leavin'” singer lost her life following a spectacular car crash on a Nashville freeway exit.

Even in death, Wynette could not find peace when her daughters determined her death to be suspicious and battled her husband to exhume the body. Less than a year later, her ex-husband and former duet partner George Jones received exactly the wake-up call he had prayed for when he drunkenly crashed his Lexus into a bridge. No stranger to shocking incidents, Jones was declared dead — twice — on the way to the hospital. And somehow, unlike many of his contemporaries, he lived to tell it all.

See videoclips and test your knowledge about Country’s Most Shocking stories.

Craig Shelburne has been writing for since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.