In the 1960s, in the thriving inland city of Tamworth, NSW, local Radio 2TM, still smarting from the introduction of TV, tried a country music program at night. "Hoedown" as it was called, flourished. The station saw the potential of country music and set about branding Tamworth as Australia’s Country Music Capital by extending their broadcasts and running concerts and other activities.
By the early '70s, artists and industry people were recognising Tamworth’s country music credentials and on January 1973, 2TM launched the Australasian Country Music Awards.
In late 1991, the then organisers of the Australasian Country Music Awards decided to to discontinue the traditional Awards night, and instead various Golden Guitars were to be presented at a number of different venues during the Festival. This actually occurred in January 1992 and was deemed a failure by the industry. The decision to change the format was taken by 2TM (through it's subsidiary BAL Marketing) without consultation with the industry. Artists, record companies, songwriters and other industry people were incensed by the change to our long established "night of nights". A small group comprising Slim Dusty, John Williamson, Joy McKean, Phil Matthews and Max Ellis decided to start an organisation which would fight for the interests of the Australian country music industry particularly in regard to the Awards. The Country Music Association of Australia Inc was launched in Tamworth in January 1992 with Slim Dusty at the helm as Chairman, John Williamson as Vice Chairman, Joy McKean as Treasurer, Max Ellis as Secretary and Phil Matthews as Public Officer. A Board of 18 industry members was appointed and funding was generated by a huge concert at the Rodeo Arena in January 1992 with virtually all the industry’s major artists performing for free, raising over $40,000. In addition, APRA gave a $10,000 grant as well as legal assistance. By June 1992 the CMAA had achieved it’s first of many achievements. After lengthy negotiations, Radio 2TM generously agreed to hand over the Awards without charge to the new body.