“Ya’ll are the reason no one comes to No. 1 parties,” he joked.
The singer was speaking to a few hundred music industry peers who had swarmed Warner Bros. Nashville’s offices on Music Row. As the crowd relished honey-inspired hors d’oeuvres consisting of bacon-wrapped shrimp with honey whiskey sauce and orange and honey glazed biscuits, they watched as Shelton and the song’s writers, Ben Hayslip and Rhett Akins, were awarded by numerous industry executives with everything from framed plaques and honey whiskey to lengthy speeches of admiration and gratitude.
Taking part in one of the afternoon’s shorter presentations, it was Shelton himself who awarded each songwriter with framed lyrics of “Honey Bee,” as well as a personalized message he wrote to each songwriter.
Deciding to read his witty notes aloud, Shelton began with Hayslip.
“Ben, thank you, my friend, for writing such amazing songs and caring so much for Rhett,” he said. “You know … like making him rich and all.”
As the crowd roared with laughter, he continued with the next plaque for Akins.
“Rhett, you be my honey bee and suckle me any time,” he joked. “I’d love it.”
Resuming the teasing where Shelton left off, Akins took the microphone to admit he had a confession to make.
“Blake, I’ve had this on my conscience for 10 years, and I’m going to say it right here in front of everybody,” he began.
He then went on to explain the first time he laid eyes on the tall singer, Shelton’s long hair hung down to his waist.
“I said, ‘Who in the world is that — and what in the world is that comin’ out of his cowboy hat?! I haven’t heard any of his songs and I don’t know how good his voice is, but I can just tell you right now, he ain’t gonna make it.'”
At the party, Shelton yelled out, “I can’t believe it, either!”
“I want to apologize in front of everybody, Blake, for judging a singer by his mullet,” Akins laughed along with the room. “I love you, and you’ve been a good friend to me, and thank you for what you’ve done for us all.”
To his co-writer, Akins said, “I’ve got to thank Ben for being my best friend since we’ve been in eighth grade. Thank God for putting us on the same baseball team. From the moment we sat in the dugout and we were out in the outfield, we were writing songs.”
When it was Hayslip’s turn for a few words, he noted he and Akins first wrote a song together in 1984.
“It was half rap and half singing,” he explained. “And it wasn’t half bad, I didn’t think.”
Stirring up an idea, he said, “Might want to pitch it to Blake. Can you rap?”
“Can Jerry Reed?” Shelton quickly retorted, summoning more laughter with his play on words.
“To be standing here with Rhett, celebrating a No. 1 song, a song this big 27 years later, just says a lot about our friendship,” Hayslip continued. “Rhett, I appreciate you for pretty much a lifetime of friendship.”
But as the party came to a close, it was Shelton who made the final serious and heartfelt remarks.
“Thank you, Rhett, thank you, Ben, for I think my career song,” he said. “I really do believe that, man.”View photos from the No. 1 party.