Detroit rocker, Silver Bullet Band leader and unsung '90s country influencer Bob Seger offered Eric Church a needed break right after the country star made a huge early-career mistake.
Back in 2006, Church was the opening act on Rascal Flatts' Me and My Gang tour. It offered Church invaluable exposure for his debut album, Sinners Like Me.
Instead of minding his Ps and Qs, Church continually broke rules about the length of his set, how loud his band was supposed to play and where he was allowed to stand on stage.
Rascal Flatts had no choice but to fire Church and replace him with another future superstar, Taylor Swift.
Per Church's recent interview with Apple Music, he soon received a call from Seger, offering him a 45-minute opening slot.
"At that time, I was getting 15 minutes to play in front of Rascal Flatts," Church said. "My record was 40 minutes long. I had to figure out a song. I didn't have 45 minutes, I can't even play that long."
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Church adds that Seger's kind act "saved my career" in Nashville and "saved my faith in music."
"He was just a guy that ... I'll never forget, my mom and dad, big Seger fans. And our first show was in Cincinnati, Ohio. And after the Flatts thing happened, I took a lot of flak, at least in the country music community. And I walked out there and I played, and then Seger came out and played 'Roll Me Away.' That was his opening song," Church added. "And my mom and my dad were next to me, and I just remember that moment with my parents, and watching Bob walk out there. So, I have a special place in my heart for Bob."
Church got blacklisted from major country tours for several years, but it proved to be a cursed blessing. Touring clubs built grassroots support and furthered Church's everyday people image. The less-smooth path from 2006 to Church's current Heart & Soul series of new albums landed him three No. 1 long-players (Chief, The Outsiders and Desperate Man) and numerous industry awards, including the CMA's Entertainer of the Year prize for 2020.
In 2012, Seger helped induct Garth Brooks into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
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