Tracy Darrell Adkins has had an incredibly successful career in country music since his 1996 debut album with Capitol Records, Dreamin' Out Loud. With 12 studio albums under his belt, an induction into the prestigious Grand Ole Opry, and multiple ACM Awards wins, including ACM Vocal Event of the Year for "Hillbilly Bone" with Blake Shelton, the man is an American legend, big time.
The 58-year-old has made his way from numerous top 20 hits on the country charts like "Ladies Love Country Boys" and "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing" to Hollywood. Adkins has had multiple TV appearances, including winning the 2013 season of NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice and continuous success since his first album.
From working on an oil rig in a hurricane to getting shot point-blank in the chest, the "You're Gonna Miss This" singer doesn't just sing country songs - he lives them. Here are the craziest things the honky-tonk country singer has survived.
1. Car accident and severed nose, ~1972
At the age of 17, Adkins was driving his '55 Chevy truck to his high school one morning when the frost on the windshield blocked an empty parked school bus from view. He hit the bus head-on and totaled the car. Despite puncturing both lungs, breaking several ribs, and getting a severed nose (don't worry, they sewed it back on!), he somehow survived and went on to garner a football scholarship to Louisiana Tech University. Sadly, knee injuries ended any chance of an athletic career, but the universe had other plans for Mr. Adkins - even if it would take a while for them to unfold.
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2. Bulldozer accident, oil explosion, flipped truck, severed finger and stuck on an oil rig in a hurricane, 1982-1989
After college, Adkins worked several manual odd jobs before figuring out Nashville was the place to be. Somehow he managed to come away from FIVE work-related accidents with his life and limbs intact. In 1982, he was involved in a bulldozer accident that caused such deep cuts to his hindquarters that "I thought I was fixin' to lose both my legs." Less than a year later, a tank containing 400 barrels of oil exploded while he was trying to repair a leak, and his left leg was totally crushed. In 1988, he flipped his truck on an icy overpass in Texas, putting him in a neck brace (which at this point is pretty small potatoes.) A year after that, he accidentally cut off one of his fingers in another job accident.
Finally, for the cherry on top of this hellacious decade, Adkins was stranded with nine other coworkers on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico during 1989's Hurricane Chantal. To survive, "I got to the highest part of the living quarters on the rig, so if it turned over, I was pretty well centered and could go in either direction." He once said in an interview that he and the other riggers were leaning off the platform and into the winds at 45° angles for fun. Unfortunately for our hard-living hero, the worst was yet to come.
3. Shot in the heart and lungs by ex-wife, 1994
Adkins most recently went through his third divorce from ex-wife Rhonda Forlaw, but chances are it'll be more amicable than his second. In 1994, his second wife, Julie Curtis, got a little too fed up with his drinking. On Feb. 21, 1994, she told him that his most recent binge was her breaking point and told him to leave. After arguing, she pointed a .38 at him, and when he tried to disarm her, she shot him in the chest - through both lungs and both ventricles of his heart, specifically. "The doctors held little hope that I would survive and told my family and friends to go in and say goodbye," he wrote in his autobiography A Personal Stand: Observations and Opinions from a Freethinking Roughneck.
4. House burns to ground, 2011
Adkins' Nashville home burned down after flames spread from the garage to the attic. Fortunately, his three daughters, MacKenzie, Brianna, and Trinity, escaped after employing fire safety tips they had learned in school. The dog and the children's nanny were also unscathed. "Stuff is stuff," said then-wife Rhonda, who was driving a few blocks away when the fire started and could see the black smoke in the sky. However, "I have not backed up all my photographs, and I'm just sitting here sick because those are the things that matter the most," she lamented. "It's your memories, our wedding pictures; I don't have because the negatives are in the house." Trace was flying to a couple of shows in Alaska when he got the call and immediately boarded a plane home to Tennessee after landing.
5. Fight with Trace Adkins impersonator, 2014
In his ongoing battle with alcoholism, Adkins checked into rehab again in 2014. The events that led to his recent stint are almost too absurd to be believed. After boarding a country cruise ship headed for Jamaica, Adkins got into a fight - with a Trace Adkins impersonator. The real Adkins must not have appreciated the phony one's karaoke skills, and they reportedly got into a 'brawl.' He checked into rehab after de-boarding the ship; his previous check-in was in was for a month in 2001, spurred on (amongst other things) by the death of his father. After announcing that he was entering rehab, he and his third wife of seventeen years, Rhonda, filed for divorce. We wish them all the best.
Adkins's latest new album was released in 2017 with a strong first single, "Jesus and Jones," in which Adkins reflects on his demons. You can watch Adkins perform the song in the video below.
This article was originally published in 2017.
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