Before country artist John Rich was a Fox Nation favorite or the voice behind American country anthems, the singer was just a little kid from Texas with big dreams.
The host of “The Pursuit! With John Rich” himself sat down with his old friend and fellow country singer Cowboy Troy to discuss friendship, music and how the word “no” got him. its biggest “yes”.
Growing up in Amarillo as the son of a preacher, Rich was exposed to how his father spread the word of God – through gospel music and his guitar. The first time he and his father attended guitar lessons, Rich said he was praised for his naturalness and received his very first guitar for Christmas in 1979.
“The worst punishment to give me … was to” take the guitar and put it in a closet. And you can’t train, “” he said. “That’s how much I loved playing the guitar.”
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As a high school student, after returning to Tennessee where his mother grew up, Rich noted his first public audition for Opryland in Nashville where he was hired for the concert.
Rich was picked up soon after by musician Dean Sams, a member of country band Lonestar, and was asked to train with the band. Satisfied with his vocal range, Rich recorded no. 1 Lonestar hit “Come Cryin ‘To Me” in 1996.
“When it happened, it blew me away,” he said.
But the dream did not last long. Rich admitted that instant fame caused him to become argumentative and “combative” with his Lonestar groupmates, which resulted in him being kicked out of the group.
The expulsion influenced Rich to write music intensively for over a year and steered him towards a solo recording deal with the same label that signed Lonestar. But his first singles failed completely and his recording contract was withdrawn.
“Now that you’ve been kicked out of a band, your solo contract ended like this, I mean it didn’t last six months. And now ? ” He asked. “Now you are in real trouble. “
The discouraged artist continued to write with bad taste for the industry until he was introduced to high-spirited singer Big Kenny. Rich said he was immediately impressed with Big’s energy on stage and in October 1999 the couple started writing music together.
“From those songwriting sessions comes this body of work… and we would meet in the middle at a place neither of us could define,” he said. “To this day, if you ask him to define Big & Rich music, we can’t… It’s a chemical reaction.”
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The duo got a call from Paul Worley, one of Nashville’s biggest producers, and assumed they would suggest songs for country icon Martina McBride. But Worley had another idea in mind: to sign Big & Rich with Warner Brothers Records.
“Boom!” Rich said. “The biggest break we’ve ever had.”
Big & Rich released their first record “Horse of a Different Color” and heard surprising reviews from the label on one particular song, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy), lest the artists be taken seriously, but once the album was released, the song went viral on radio stations across the country.
“You need to know that if it’s okay with you and it’s the way I’m supposed to move, the way I’m supposed to walk, you walk,” Rich said. “It doesn’t matter what they say.”
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Rich went on to write hits for major stars such as Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and others, earning him three consecutive years of ASCAP Songwriter of the Year.
“Not bad for a country kid from Amarillo, right?”