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Eric Church Bares the Details of His Rise to Fame in Playboy

Eric Church
Frederick Breedon IV, Getty Images

Country rocker Eric Church doesn’t play by the rules. He proudly sports a chip on his shoulder. He’s carved out a bad boy image in country music that led to an incredible amount of success. Church recently bared all the details to Playboy, telling the magazine of his unconventional rise to fame. 

Committed fans know that back in the day, the ‘Like Jesus Does’ singer was kicked off Rascal Flatts‘ tour for playing too long one evening and replaced by country cutie Taylor Swift. What they may not know is Church was just tired of playing by the rules.

After only three shows with the trio, he wanted an out. So, at the prestigious Madison Square Garden, the singer broke all the rules an opening act should follow. He played too loudly, performed in off-limits areas of the stage, and went over his time limit by ten whole minutes. As soon as he stepped offstage, Flatts’ manager fired him and hired a known rule-follower — Swift.

In country music, Church was ostracized. “We ended up banished to the wilderness,” he recalls. “Nobody would touch us. It’s like we were nuclear.” However, he eventually dug himself a niche in the rock and roll side of country. “We’re further into rock and roll than anyone else, and that’s why a lot of traditionalists have a major problem with me,” he says — not that it particularly bothers him.

The musician has a long memory for past slights, and he is open about his admiration for other people who do, including basketball star Michael Jordan. Church says, “I’ve never seen a person hold grudges like that. And I like that, because I carry a hell of a chip on my shoulder.” Just like the athlete, Church has memorized a list of those who stood in his way. “I carry that list onstage with me,” he admits.

When he Is onstage or at any event, Church is sporting his familiar cap and sunglasses, which he says puts him in a different mental mode. His hat is Von Dutch, and he’s worn it at every show since he paid $6 for it five years ago. It seems that this hat is a bit of a mystery, as he’s tried to find an identical replacement cap, but Von Dutch has no record of manufacturing it.

Being a rebel doesn’t always pay off, but Church has it down to a science.  He’s showing everyone you don’t have to play by the rules to succeed, winning Album of the Year at the 2013 ACMs. He’s the chief, and he likes it that way.

Next: Read Our Interview With Eric Church

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