Although many past and present stars chased success from day one as solo acts, some cut their teeth performing with former bands. Not all of these musical groups played country music, with contemporary artists’ pasts including everything from a rap ensemble to a thrash metal band. There’s a handful of all-time greats whose early years overlapped the rise of rock music.
Neyami Road (Luke Bryan)
Before hitting it huge in Nashville, Luke Bryan wowed Georgia towns as lead singer of Neyami Road. The Leesburg, Ga. band recorded at least one independently-released CD, which is now worth a nice chunk of change.
Wanda Jackson’s Backing Band (Roy Clark)
Roy Clark’s diverse playing style made him a great fit for the Queen of Rockabilly’s backing band. Jackson recently told Wide Open Country that Clark was brought on board in part share singing duties on lengthy nights at Las Vegas’ Golden Nugget.
Pure Prairie League (Vince Gill)
Recent shows with the Eagles weren’t Vince Gill’s first rodeos as a country rocker. Gill’s stint in Pure Prairie League bridges his years as a bluegrass player to his legendary run as a county music superstar.
Ingenious Circuit (Tyler Hubbard)
Prior to co-founding Florida Georgia Line, Tyler Hubbard rapped in a proudly Southern ensemble. What else is new? In all seriousness, Monroe, Ga.-based Ingenious Circuit strung together listenable rap songs with positive messages, making IGC a precursor to FGL.
Buddy Holly’s Backing Band (Waylon Jennings)
At the time of Buddy Holly’s passing, his post-Crickets backing band included a fine young bassist named Waylon Jennings. Holly famously died in a 1959 plane crash alongside the Big Bopper and Richie Valens. Chillingly, Jennings gave up his seat on the plane that fateful day.
Unchecked Aggression (Cody Jinks)
Before Cody Jinks became one of modern country’s true independent success stories, he sang for Texas thrash metal band Unchecked Aggression. The band’s lone album, another “before they were famous” CD that’s now worth money, finds Jinks sounding a little bit like Pantera singer Phil Anselmo.
Buffalo Clover (Margo Price)
Margo Price and her guitarist Jeremy Ivey’s musical and martial partnership first gained notoriety with Buffalo Clover. The band’s back catalog may very well preview the wide palette of American music that’ll influence Price’s solo output for years to come.
The Jompson Brothers (Chris Stapleton)
Before taking roots-based country music to the masses, Chris Stapleton sang in a couple of different bands. In addition to his stint with bluegrass band the SteelDrivers, Stapleton logged some miles with formidable Southern rock outfit the Jompson Brothers.
The Ranch (Keith Urban)
Another band that should’ve tipped fans off to its singer’s bright future is The Ranch. The late ’90s trio catapulted singer and guitarist Keith Urban to stardom. Their lone album also introduced listeners to future Dixie Chicks single “Some Days You Gotta Dance.”
Circus Maximus (Jerry Jeff Walker)
Jerry Jeff Walker ranks among the greatest living songwriters and remains a gem waiting to be found anytime someone Google searches the great train song writers name dropped by Willie and Waylon. Before outlaw infamy, he helped test the seemingly limitless boundaries of jazz-rock and psychedelia with another act worth discovering.