Born Doug Brooks, June 19, 1956, in Atlanta, GA; changed surname to Stone to avoid confusion with country superstar Garth Brooks; son of Jack (a mechanic) and Gail Menscer (a musician) Brooks; first marriage ended in 1979; married Carie Cohen, c. 1982; children: Michelle, David, Chanse, Kala. Began recording songs in home studio, c. 1972; performed at skating rinks; worked as diesel mechanic; performed in small clubs; signed by Epic Records, 1989, and released debut album, Doug Stone, 1990. Addresses: Management-- Phyllis Bennett Management/Hallmark Management, 1819 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203. Booking agent-- Buddy Lee Attractions, Inc., 38 Music Square E., Nashville, TN 37203.
Country singer Doug Stone has been described as one of the best of the New Traditionalists. His romantic ballads, sung in a smooth baritone, have garnered considerable attention, though his clever, uptempo songs have their admirers as well. Stone's performances are particularly distinguished by his dancing--an unusual stage element for a country singer.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1956, Stone left school when he was 15 to apprentice as a mechanic with his father and to start a band. He began recording songs in a self-built home studio when he was 16. Encouraged by his mother, who sang country music herself, he played in skating rinks for five dollars a night. He eventually moved up to playing in small clubs but for many years had to support his wife and children by working as a diesel mechanic during the day. The strain of working both day and night took its toll on Stone's marriage--he was divorced in 1979. Three years of depression followed, Stone told People, "a feeling of being so alone, you don't care whether you're here or not." That loneliness ended in 1982 when a friend introduced the singer to Carie Cohen, whom he married a short time later.
Stone continued to struggle, writing and taping songs and storing them on his shelves, until his big break came, in 1989. Phyllis Bennet, a Nashville manager, spotted him performing at a VFW function and within a year had signed a management contract with him. She paired him with Doug Johnson, a relatively new Nashville engineer and producer. Stone recorded three songs with Johnson, which would be pedaled to the major labels. A Columbia/Epic producer heard the tracks a few months later and signed Stone as an artist and Johnson as his producer.
Stone's first album, Doug Stone, was released in March of 1990 and immediately drew the country music spotlight. His debut single, "I'd Be Better Off (in a Pine Box)," soared to Number Four on the country charts and was nominated for a Grammy. Several other songs from that album, including "These Lips Don't Know How to Say Goodbye" and "Fourteen Minutes Old," made it to the Top Five. In 1993, the album went platinum.
The success of his first effort set Stone on a hectic schedule of interviews and touring. He began opening across the country for such stars as Alabama, Reba McEntire, and Ricky Van Shelton and made a few guest appearances at the Grand Ole Opry. This new lifestyle, however, made it difficult for Stone to find the time or the privacy to write. In 1991 he told Country Music' s Bob Allen, "When I'm in Nashville, they keep me so busy doing interviews and stuff that I hardly have time to sit down. Since I've been touring, I've only written one song on the road.... [It's] hard to get off anywhere where you're by yourself, unless you're in the bunk. And I can't fit my guitar in there!"
Stone released his next album, I Thought It Was You, in the summer of 1991. The title track, a classic country sob for a lost love, again took Stone to the top of the charts. Although a few songs, including the Number One "Jukebox With a Country Song," showcased Stone in a rollicking, humorous mode, most of the pieces were intimate, romantic ballads. Vogue contributor Julia Reed attested, "Stone proves that his is one of the best voices in the business ... in the love songs that make up half this album."
In the spring of 1992, dizziness and pain in Stone's left arm led to the discovery that a major artery in his heart was 99 percent blocked. A quadruple bypass operation followed. Stone took only five weeks off from performing to recuperate. According to Jack Hurst of the Chicago Tribune, "The shows he is doing now ... are far beyond the call of contractual obligation. Unless you knew, you'd never guess the man onstage had recently recuperated from open-heart surgery." Although Stone did not alter his intensive touring schedule, he did modify his diet, which had been heavy on fried foods, and gave up his three-pack-a-day cigarette habit.
A few months after his convalescence, Stone released his ironically titled third album, From the Heart, which he insists was recorded and titled three months before his operation. Although the album features its share of ballads, it was the satiric "Warning Labels" that worked its way to the Top Five of the country charts. Country Music' s Rich Kienzle assessed, "'Warning Labels' satirizes today's tendency to issue advisories on everything from cigarettes to booze, dirty records and whatever--everything but sad country ballads. The stomping, witty 'Leave Me the Radio' works well as [an] ... homage to honky tonk, and [Stone's] perfectly stated vocal makes 'Left, Leavin', Goin' or Gone' rise above the average novelty number."
Not all critics, however, found Stone's success deserved. Entertainment Weekly carped in August of 1992, "Since [his first hit, 'I'd Be Better Off (in a Pine Box),'] ... Stone has deteriorated into an audio version of a Harlequin Romance--his tunes are too often sappy, lightweight tales of infatuation and starry-eyed courtship." Still, other reviews, such as the one that appeared in Country America, stood firm, insisting, "Velvety-voiced Doug Stone's greatest strength is the heart-tugging intensity that he can wrestle from the words of a slow, simmering love song or a woeful lament."
Although many of Stone's singles have worked their way to the Top Five of the country charts, his albums, as a whole, have not achieved similar success. Stone attributes this to a lack of face recognition and is attempting to remedy the situation through continued steady touring. His albums have, nonetheless, sold at a constant, respectable pace, and it seems inevitable that Stone's larger works will soon match the popularity of his hit singles.
Doug Stone's Career
Doug Stone's Awards
Grammy Award nomination, 1991, for "I'd Be Better Off (in a Pine Box)"; platinum record for Doug Stone, 1993.
- Selective Works
- Doug Stone Epic, 1990.
- I Thought It Was You Epic, 1991.
- From the Heart Epic, 1992.
- Doug Stone Christmas Epic, 1992.
March 29, 2005: Stone's album, In a Different Light, was released. Source: Billboard, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_1/index.jsp, April 1, 2005.
- Chicago Tribune, March 25, 1990; April 25, 1991; August 16, 1992.
- Country America, January 1992.
- Country Music, November/December 1991; November/December 1992.
- Country Song Roundup, May 1992.
- Entertainment Weekly, August 28, 1992.
- People, July 20, 1992.
- Vogue, September 19, 1991.
- --Susan Windisch Brown