Mark Humphrey, AP
Prior to the show, Jason praised Hank, telling the Associated Press, "It was really funny watching him go about music the way he does. He's kind of like, 'OK, this is the way y'all do it. I'm going to do it the way I do it,'" Jason recalls. "It's just the way it is ... He's the real deal as far as country singers go."
Jason's words rang true with Bocephus' unexpected departure, forcing him to perform a second time without his hero. According to Hank Jr.'s publicist, the country legend left "because he didn't feel like he was giving an adequate performance while joining Jason on his song, 'Tattoos on This Town.' Hank told the show's producers the night was meant to honor Jason, a friend. Turning in a poor performance would only ruin that effort."
This is, of course, the type of damage control Hank Jr.'s camp is used to these days. The singer came under fire back in October after comparing President Obama to Adolph Hitler during a live FOX news broadcast. His outspoken opinion cost him his 20-year gig singing the theme song to 'Monday Night Football' (though Hank Jr. insists he quit before ESPN had a chance to fire him).
The 'All My Rowdy Friends' singer followed his publicist's reasoning with a statement to Country Weekly today: "I've heard people mess up my songs and screw up Daddy's songs," he explained to the magazine. "I was here to honor Jason, a kid I really like. When I walked out there, it didn't feel right, it didn't sound right. I didn't want to disrespect him."
Jason's solo performance of 'Tattoos on This Town' will be what we see on CMT when the 'Artists of the Year' show airs Dec. 13 at 9:00 PM ET.