Country music fans consistently rank among the most loyal in all of music. And with the booming popularity of the genre, they reach far and wide, too.
More people are going to country shows than ever before, and country music has expanded to include more styles and themes. By all accounts, the genre is in a good place.
But sometimes that fan loyalty turns to all-out fervor. And when it comes to snagging tickets, sticking up for artists or buying every product in sight, these groups of fans can go from dedicated to downright crazy.
Here are five of the craziest fan bases in country music.
5. Luke Bryan Fans (The Nut House)
As polarizing as he is in country music, Luke Bryan knows how to keep his fans happy. Even if they did pay more than almost anybody else in country music to see him on the Kick The Dust Up Tour (at more than $150 per ticket, on average). Sure, a few of you might be saying you have to be crazy to pay that much to see Luke Bryan.
But the guy knows how to make his fans feel welcome. And he goes to great efforts to see them. From his farm tour in rural towns to his “Crash My Playa” party in Mexico, Bryan leaves no stone unturned on the road.
Bryan calls his fan club the “Nut House,” which may tip off just how insane his fans go for him. But sometimes people are crazy enough just to pay a lot of money to get close enough to flip him off. In which case, Bryan has no problem smacking you.
4. George Strait Fans
George Strait managed the unthinkable: a career in which he impressed everybody and didn’t piss anybody off. On top of that, he created an absolutely rabid fan base out of nothing more than a handsome grin, smooth voice and a knack for finding great songs.
In an age when fans seemingly want more and more out of their concert experience, George Strait continued to give them the same thing and only earned more adoration for it. When the straight-laced Strait launched his two-year long farewell tour, fans routinely bawled their eyes out.
But back in 1990, fans did a lot weirder stuff for George. Like dress as chickens, act like dogs and put live frogs in their mouths. And fans have been known to get involved in the singer’s legacy, too.
Unprompted, George Strait fans banded together on social media with the “Sixty for Sixty” campaign. The goal was to get George Strait his 60th No. 1 single at country radio with his song “Give It All We Got Tonight.” Soon his label and other artists also got on board, and the influence got to radio programmers. He hit No. 1 with the tune.
For his part, Straight loves to give back as well. He got into the good habit of giving away houses to military veterans while on tour. Even recently, he helped grant the wish of a 15-year-old super fan who wanted to see Strait before a birth defect causes him to lose his hearing.
3. Kenny Chesney Fans (The No Shoes Nation)
“No Shoes Nation” is one of the few fan bases in the world that still sells out football stadiums, regardless of genre. And if you’ve ever met a Chesney fan — a true Chesney fan — you’d know they’d go to the football stadium at the end of the earth for him.
In a lot of ways, Chesney’s fan base feels like the country version of Jimmy Buffett’s fan club, the Parrotheads. They both embrace the carefree concept of island life while coming back time and again for their favorite artist’s timeless tunes. It’s what makes Chesney usually in the top three country music earners.
Plus, their love for their artists led to extremely successful outside business ventures. Buffett’s Margaritaville brand is absolutely massive. Likewise, Chesney’s new Fishbowl Spirits company has a winner with Blue Chair Bay Rum. The brand is massively successful and continues to grow in just three short years.
However, Chesney fans also get a bit of a bad rep as being a bit too careless. Fans in Pittsburgh routinely trash the town when Chesney shows up. Last time, they left 48 tons of garbage in the parking lot while more than 100 required medical attention. Oh, and dozens got tickets (or handcuffs) for disorderly conduct. Crazy country music fans indeed!
2. Literally All Of Texas Country
The fierce home state pride inherent in the heart of every Texan extends deep into the state’s Texas country roots. And that’s a big part of what makes the fan base so crazy.
Because while fans may differ as to which Texas country act is their favorite — Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen, Cory Morrow — there’s a strong loyalty to all of the state’s acts. It’s part of the reason you’ll hear from anybody that “Texas is a different world” when it comes to music.
From the early camping days of the Larry Joe Taylor Fest to the burgeoning Music Fest up in Colorado, fans go through a heck of a lot of mud and miles to be front row for artists that, to be honest, most of the rest of the world has never heard of. And even in the young artists, a sense of deep respect extends to the elder statesmen of the genre, like Ray Wylie Hubbard and Robert Earl Keen.
Texans are quick to adopt others, too. Folks like Reckless Kelly (Idaho transplants) and Turnpike Troubadours (Oklahoma natives) have no problem quickly assimilating into the pantheons of Texas country.
But Texas fans can be notoriously fickle, too. The common encore chant in Texas usually involves a bit of a naughty word. They’ll chant something along the lines of “Reckless [expletive] Kelly.” When they perceived Pat Green as being a Nashville turncoat (a whole different story altogether), chants quickly turned to “[expletive] Pat Green.”
Right or wrong, there’s no arguing with Texas country fans. They’ll follow you forever, but only if it’s always Texas first. As Granger Smith recently learned.
1. Garth Brooks
In his 1997 concert in New York City’s Central Park, 980,000 people — as in, almost 1 million — clamored to just be in the same square mile as Brooks. This is, in and of itself, absolutely insane. We’re not talking Texas or Nashville. We’re talking New York in the 1990s.
But what really puts Brooks fans over the top is their sheer dedication in ways that defy common sense. He retired at the height of his career, and yet they stuck with him, holding onto every last shred of hope that he’d return to the road.
Every single country artist embraced the digital age years, if not decades, before Garth Brooks. Heck, he didn’t even join Facebook or Twitter until 2014. And compared to most other country acts, his follower numbers rank pretty low.
But none of that matters. Because Garth Brooks fans are absolutely crazy for Brooks, consistently setting attendance and concert records on his comeback world tour. And in turn, he’s really good to them.
All of his concert tickets are the same price, no matter where you sit — because he doesn’t want parents to have to explain to their kids why they can’t “afford” to sit closer. When he decided to release his new box set through target, he set the price so low Nielsen said they wouldn’t be able to count it towards his charting. He didn’t care, cause he wanted more people to be able to buy it. And if you’ve ever been to a Garth concert, you know he’s liable to give somebody the guitar off his back.
In an age where experts implore artists to connect with their fan bases to retain them, nobody does it better than Brooks, even if it’s not how you’d expect. And they return the favor by being the absolute craziest group of fans in country music.