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As everyone who hears his amazingly rich and mature baritone instantly realizes, classic country music has always formed the home, the heart, and the soundtrack of Joe Nichols' life. "It starts when you're a kid," he says. "It's like dreaming of becoming a fireman, or anything else: You want to be great at something. For me, it was country music; that was what I cared about. It's like growing up with certain foods, or a favorite blanket, or shirt, or fabric: Later on, you want to re-identify with whatever it is, more than anything else."
Joe Nichols was
raised with an older brother and younger sister in Rogers, Arkansas, a medium-sized small town near Fayetteville. In this "suburbia, but without a big city nearby," as he recalls it, Nichols' mother was a single mom and his father drove a truck but also played bass and sang; Nichols would hear and watch his dad perform at VFW dates. Like Nichols' grandfather and uncles, his dad played classic country music. "Their kind of country," Nichols remembers, "was the music I've always liked to listen to, my favorite records:
Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins".
At high school in the 90s, Nichols' friends had other favorites. "The people I hung out with were into the pop culture, which at the time meant a lot of rock and roll that was extremely popular:
AC/DC, Motley Crue, so on. Of course, I thought they were cool. But their music, well, I couldn't really get it. I could hear it was good. But as far as being
passionate about it as music, I couldn't."
So Joe Nichols started tuning in to songs by the 80s and 90s heirs of the Jones-Haggard-Robbins tradition, artists like
Randy Travis, and
Alan Jackson. "They had real cool voices and finished sounds. They were right in the tradition. But in their music, everything was fresh." Right in the tradition, yet fresh. There, in a couple of unflashy phrases, is "Man
With a Memory," Nichols' Universal South debut, precisely.
like me," he says, "grew up listening to stuff from a long time ago, and they haven't forgotten the sound, the style. The songs don't have to be about anything unrealistic right now; they can be, for example, about driving around in a boat on a lake. The subject matter may not be about riding horses and shooting guns, but the sound of classic country, it still deals with the homeland, the heartland, even if that's in the form of today's suburban life."
After doing the usual round of jobs that most aspirant young country singers hold down, from moving furniture to installing cable TV systems, Joe Nichols hooked up with noted Nashville guitarist Brent Rowan; Brian Spradlin, Nichols'
best friend and guitar player, then working at a cartage company, moved equipment for Rowan, and he kept insisting to Rowan that he meet with Nichols. "Brian probably made a nuisance of himself," Nichols recalls. "Brent finally listened, and called the next day."
They saw things similarly, the sessioneer extraordinaire who had played on scores of big-time Nashville records and the terrific young singer who had read the guitarist's name on credits for years. "Brent and I wanted to make a record that we would buy," Nichols says. "We wanted to feel that we would turn in a record where there would be no compromises, no saying well, I'm not sure about this song or that song. We wanted twelve hits, really, that would all be contenders. I love hit records; I just want to be singing them."
"The core of your songs and music," Joe Nichols says, "needs to be about what you know, what you feel. You can spice it up, flavor it, add this or take away that. You can add colors, make it modern-sounding, make it different, unique,
or off-the-wall. You can, I believe, add things to classic country without making the core of it vanish. You can wear any kind of clothes
that you want to wear, you can put on this or that. But that classic country base, that's what I'm always going to come home to. Because
that's where it is for me."
Awards include --
CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards
||Breakthrough Video of the Year
Academy of Country Music
||Top New Male Vocalist
Hit songs include --
- Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off
- The Impossible
- What's A Guy Gotta Do
- I'll Wait For You
- Size Matters (Someday)
- If Nobody Believed In You
- Another Side Of You
- She Only Smokes When She Drinks
- Cool To Be A Fool
- It Ain't No Crime
- Man With A Memory
- Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
- I'll Be Home For Christmas
- The Christmas Song
- If Nobody Believed In You
- I'll Wait For You
- Sunny and 75
Joe Nichols may be available for your next special event!
.Americana. / xAmericana
.Neo-Traditionalist Country. / NeoTraditionalistCountry
.Contemporary Country. / ContemporaryCountry
x90s, x00s, x10s, x20s
Born: ..in Arkansas / born nArkansas
Born: ..in Rogers / born RogersAR
Born: Nov 26, 1976
Based: ..in US
Based: ..in Tennessee / based nTennessee
Based: ..in Nashville /