Eric Church Deliberately Pushed Rascal Flatts’ Buttons During 2006 Tour
Yes, Eric Church once got booted from the opening slot of Rascal Flatt's tour -- but to hear the then-rising artist talk about it at the time, it almost sounds like he intentionally baited the superstar trio to fire him.
Back in 2006, Church had just released his debut album, Sinners Like Me, and he scored a place on the trio's Me and My Gang Tour. While it was a dream role for any young performer, Church didn't always seem to see it that way: He routinely played too loud during his opening set, and stayed on stage for longer than the allotted time.
According to Rascal Flatts, they tried to work with him, adding an additional 12 minutes to the front end of his set. "We asked him four times to stay to the allotted amount of time that he had to play," the group's Jay DeMarcus explained. "We sat him down in our dressing room and were like, 'Look. We'll put you on early so you can play longer. But please, just be off the stage because we still have to do our show.'"
When Church played late, the group went on to say, it cost them a lot of money. Things came to a head during a performance in Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., where Church once again went over his time limit.
"For every minute that you go overtime, especially in New York City, you're charged thousands of dollars by the minute in labor fees," DeMarcus adds.
Ever the rebel, Church said at the time that he realized early on that the My and My Gang Tour wasn't for him, and he wanted an out. That's why he continued to play past his time, despite repeated warnings from Rascal Flatts. After getting fired, Church didn't stop pushing the trio's buttons: In fact, he trolled Flatts for the rest of their tour, following them from city to city and offering small free shows at the same time as their arena dates. He even called it the Me and Myself Tour.
While Flatts and Church squabbled, the opening act that replaced him on the Me and My Gang Tour -- a young performer named Taylor Swift -- took the opportunity to sweep in and captivate the crowd, building up a fanbase that would quickly launch her into megastardom. Church admitted to Swift that the tour was a far better match for her than it had ever been for him, and that she should send him her first gold album as thanks for the slot. All jokes aside, Swift actually did send a gold album to Church, as well as a note that said "Thanks for playing too long and too loud on the Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it."
Despite the fact that Church and Flatts butted heads on tour together, all parties involved insist it's all water under the bridge. Both acts -- not to mention Swift, who is arguably the real winner in this story -- have gone on to have massively successful careers.
Though Church says he was ostracized by the country community after getting fired by Flatts, and had difficulty finding other tours in the years that followed, he's solidly back in the spotlight now. On Saturday (May 20), Church played Nissan Stadium to over 50,000 people, an attendance record for the singer. The date also marked the first time the stadium had ever held a concert with just one headliner -- no opening act -- and, presumably, Church was allowed to play as late and as loud as he wanted.
To learn more about how and why Church got fired from Rascal Flatts Me and My Gang Tour, press play on the video above to watch the latest installment of The Secret History of Country Music, from The Boot's partner site, Taste of Country.
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