How Eric Church’s Rascal Flatts Feud Helped Launch Taylor Swift’s Career
Did you know Eric Church basically discovered Taylor Swift? He's even got the gold record to prove it!
Okay, the story's not quite that simple. Church was just a young newcomer to country music in 2006. He had just released his debut album, Sinners Like Me, when he got the word that he had landed a dream gig opening for perennial arena-fillers Rascal Flatts on their Me and My Gang Tour — only, the rebellious young performer didn't find it a dream gig at all.
Church chafed at the restraints of his opening slot, which included all of the usual restrictions that apply to stage space, volume and how long he and his band were allowed to play. Church would later admit that he deliberately pushed the limits over and over during his nightly set, walking onto the parts of the stage he wasn't supposed to use and playing past his allotted time. That was costing Rascal Flatts a significant amount of money, since their crew went on the clock automatically at the start time of their headlining set regardless of whether the band were onstage or not. Finally, after repeated warnings, they fired Church from the tour.
As we explore in this week's episode of The Secret History of Country Music, then teenaged Swift was also a brand-new artist with a debut album out, and she was tapped to replace Church on the tour. She called him soon after, and Church told her that she was far better suited to the bill than he had ever been. He joked that she should give him her first gold album in exchange for the boost in exposure, and though he was kidding, Swift actually made good on that, sending him a gold album with a note that read, "Thanks for playing too long and too loud on the Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it. Taylor."
The Secret History of Country Music is a weekly video series hosted by Taste of Country News host Ania Hammar. Every Monday, she takes fans deeper inside the stories of country music's biggest hits, moments and figures. Be sure to subscribe to Taste of Country's YouTube channel so you never miss a new episode.
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