The 2012 CMT Artists of the Year broadcast honored seven of country's hottest stars Saturday night -- Eric Church, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan.
Each star performed on the show and received shout-outs from their heroes and fellow stars. Jason Aldean was recognized for a third straight year at the show. He performed "Take a Little Ride" after getting a warm introduction from former Atlanta Braves star Chipper Jones. Jason's "Dirt Road Anthem" remix collaborator Ludacris also paid tribute to Jason in a pre-taped video.
Sheryl Crow and Chris Young honored Miranda Lambert, who sang an acoustic version of "Over You." Merle Haggard also sent in a video tribute asking Miranda to sing with him again sometime soon.
Toby Keith performed "Beers Ago" and gave big props to the U.S. servicemen and women sitting in the audience of the intimate show. Baseballer Roger Clemens had a red Solo cup in hand while introducing Toby. Talk show host Craig Ferguson, gave Toby a little grief too about putting him in the ubiquitous "Red Solo Cup" video.
Luke Bryan teamed up with OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder for a mashup of Luke's hit "Drunk on You" and One Republic's "Feel Again." Luke was honored by Kenny Rogers after receiving a warm introduction from his 2013 tour openers Thompson Square.
Kenny Chesney was recognized for his highly successful 2012 with an introduction from Sammy Hagar. His opening acts for next year's No Shoes Nation tour, Eli Young Band and Kacey Musgraves, teamed up for a duet performance of "Come Over" in Kenny's honor.
Miranda Lambert sang along to Carrie Underwood's performance of "Two Black Cadillacs," which received a standing ovation from the celebrity and music-industry heavy crowd. Carrie's husband Mike Fisher and her tour opener Hunter Hayes were there to sing her praises.
Metallica's James Hetfield encouraged Eric Church to continue doing his own thing and not follow anyone else in a pre-taped tribute. He got a laugh by putting on a cap and sunglasses to look like Eric while delivering that message about staying original.
Kid Rock was also there to introduce Eric's performance of "Homeboy," which was accented by a string section and three soulful backup singers.
CMT Artists of the Year co-hosts Rascal Flatts and Hayden Panettiere kicked off the night with the Flatts crashing a mock scene from ABC's Nashville. Hayden was in character as "Juliette Barnes" on a private jet playing strip poker with Charles Esten's "Deacon" and Connie Britton's "Rayna James" when the Flatts crashed the party and took Hayden to the Artists of the Year set.
The CMT Artists of the Year honorees were kept secret until showtime this year.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio