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Members include Jay DeMarcus (born Stanley W. DeMarcus, Jr. on April 26, 1971, in Columbus, OH), vocals, bass, keyboards; Gary LeVox (born Gary Wayne Vernon, Jr. on July 10, 1970, in Columbus, OH), vocals; Joe Don Rooney (born on September 13, 1975, Baxter Springs, KS), vocals, guitar. Addresses: Record company--Lyric Street Records, 824 19th Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37203. Website--Rascal Flatts Official Website: http://www.rascalflatts.com.
The music of Rascal Flatts reflects two readily apparent themes: hard work and having fun. Even though this country trio hit it big with their self-titled debut, they didn't allow themselves to rest on their laurels. They toured for two years in support of their platinum-selling first release, which included four top-ten hits, and they were right back out on the road as soon as their second album arrived in stores. "We completely worked our tails off," singer-guitarist Joe Don Rooney told Craig Shelburne on the Country Music Television (CMT) website, "and we will continue to do that, because you can't keep a career going without more work."
Rascal Flatts began in 1999 in Nashville, Tennessee, but the groundwork for the group was set by Jay DeMarcus (vocals, bass, keyboards) and Gary LeVox (vocals), second cousins who grew up as close friends in Columbus, Ohio. The two members' families often got together to play music, which instilled a love of music in the two cousins. In 1992 DeMarcus moved to Nashville to pursue a career in country music. With talent in several instruments, including guitar, bass, keyboards, mandolin, DeMarcus soon joined a Christian group called East to West. In 1997 DeMarcus convinced LeVox to leave his job and join him in Nashville. "We started writing together," DeMarcus said in the band's record company biography. "We caught up on lost time and sang every chance we got.... We'd stay up endless nights writing music and playing together."
By this time, DeMarcus was the keyboardist and bandleader for Chely Wright, but he and LeVox performed in clubs in Nashville's Printer's Alley on the side. Rooney, who grew up in Picher, Oklahoma, also moved to Nashville around this time after becoming a guitarist in Wright's band. Prior to that, he had performed with the bands Arkansas and Single Tree. Rooney and DeMarcus became friends while playing with Wright, so when DeMarcus and LeVox needed a fill-in guitarist for a show at the Fiddle & Steel Club in Printer's Alley, they asked Rooney. That night, when their performance came together like magic, the trio decided to form a more permanent alliance.
At another performance they asked the audience to help them come up with a name for the group. A friend talked to them after the show and said he had played in a garage band in the 1960s called Rascal Flatts--he thought the name would be a good fit for them. The trio agreed, and the band was ready to move forward toward country music stardom.
Rascal Flatts recorded a demo that got the attention of Doug Howard, senior vice president at Lyric Street Records, and the group signed a recording contract with the label. Company President Randy Goodman told Billboard: "They don't look like a typical country act, but when you hear them harmonize, you know immediately they're country."
In June of 2000 Rascal Flatts released their self-titled debut. They toured with Alan Jackson, Jo Dee Messina, and Toby Keith, and album sales soared. They started with the top-ten single "Prayin' for Daylight," which was followed by three more top-ten hits: "This Everyday Love," "While You Loved Me," and "I'm Movin' On." "It's unbelievable--the thrill of a lifetime," DeMarcus said in the band's record company biography. "We're beyond blessed. It keeps getting better and better. It's meant bigger crowds and more people knowing our music."
Following the release of Rascal Flatts, the trio also recorded "Walk the Llama, Llama" for The Emperor's New Groove soundtrack and "The Glory of Life" for the We Were Soldiers soundtrack. Rascal Flatts was named the Academy of Country Music's 2001 New Vocal Group of the Year. The band also played the legendary Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville on several occasions, which they consider one of their most memorable achievements. "You think about everything in the past, and all the people who have stood there in that spot, and you get to stand there now," LeVox explained at Country Stars.com. "It's amazing!"
Success came with challenges, though. Because they arrived on the music scene when pop "boy bands" dominated the charts, they became labeled as the country music equivalent, which came with a skepticism about their true talent. "I guess somewhere along the line, when we first came out, somebody thought it was a crime to be young and not wear a cowboy hat and sing country music," DeMarcus told Shelburne. "It was really frustrating to fight this stigma, but I think we're pulling out of it."
By the release of their second album, Melt, on October 29, 2002, Rascal Flatts' staying power was undeniable. The release sold 168,990 copies in its first week and debuted at number one on Billboard's top country album chart and number five on the top 200 album chart. All three members of the band coproduced the album with Mark Bright and Marty Williams. "We want to expand more on the foundation we started to build with that first album, and with Melt, I think we've accomplished that," Rooney said in the band's record company biography.
Lyric Street promoted Melt heavily, taking advantage of the synergistic opportunities available at its parent company, the Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney hotels, and Disney cruise ships played the video for the first single, "These Days," every three hours when the album was released.
On November 6, 2002, Rascal Flatts received the Country Music Association Horizon Award, an honor given to the band that has displayed the most significant growth in the past year. The trio performed "These Days" at the awards ceremony, which was held at the Grand Ole Opry House. Just a few weeks later, they landed the number-one spot on the country airplay chart for the first time in their career, according to the Country Airplay Monitor.
Rascal Flatts followed the release of Melt by touring with Toby Keith, and they were scheduled to tour with Brooks & Dunn in 2003. Rooney told Angela King in Billboard that the band has to be "road dogs" because "this kind of success just doesn't come to anybody. We know that to stabilize it and keep it and make it grow, you've gotta keep going, growing the fan base, and reaching more people. If we continue that, there's no telling what Rascal Flatts can do."
by Sonya Shelton
Rascal Flatts's Career
Group had early beginnings with LeVox and DeMarcus, 1997; Rooney joined, group officially formed and signed with Lyric Street Records, 1999; released debut, Rascal Flatts, 2000; "Walk the Llama, Llama" appeared on Emperor's New Groove soundtrack, 2000; released second album, Melt, 2002.
Rascal Flatts's Awards
Academy of Country Music Award, New Vocal Group of the Year, 2001; Country Music Association Horizon Award, 2002.
- Selected discography
- Rascal Flatts , Lyric Street, 2000.
- (Contributor) The Emperor's New Groove (soundtrack), Disney, 2000.
- (Contributor) We Were Soldiers (soundtrack), Sony, 2002.
- Melt , Lyric Street, 2002.
April 21, 2004: Rascal Flatts won the Country Music Television Flame Worthy Award for group video of the year, for "I Melt." Source: CMT.com, www.cmt.com/shows/events/flameworthy/2004/winners.jhtml, April 27, 2004.
May 26, 2004: Rascal Flatts won the Academy of Country Music Award for Top Vocal Group. Source: Academy of Country Music, www.acmcountry.com/2004_acm_nominees.htm, May 27, 2004.
May 15, 2004: Band member Jay DeMarcus married model and former Miss Tennessee Allison Alderson. Source: People, May 31, 2004, p. 85.
September 15, 2004: It was announced that Rascal Flatts' album, Feels Like Today, will be released on September 28, 2004. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_3/index.jsp, September 15, 2004.
November 9, 2004: Rascal Flatts won the Country Music Association Award for Vocal Group of the Year. Source: 38th Annual CMA Awards, www.cmaawards.com, November 9, 2004.
April 11, 2005: Rascal Flatts won the Country Music Television Award for Group Video of the Year for "Feels Like Today." Source: Country Music Television, www.cmt.com/shows/events/cmt_music_awards/2005/, April 15, 2005.
May 17, 2005: Rascal Flatts won the Academy of Country Music Award for best vocal group. Source: CNN.com, www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/Music/05/18/music.countryawards.list.ap/index.html, May 19, 2005.
November 15, 2005: Rascal Flatts won the Country Music Association award for vocal group of the year. Source: CMA Awards, www.cmaawards.com/2005/nomWin/, November 16, 2005.
- Billboard, November 11, 2000; February 23, 2002; November 2, 2002.
- Country Airplay Monitor, November 22, 2002.
- PR Newswire, October 10, 2002; November 6, 2002.
- "About Rascal Flatts," Lyric Street Records, http://www.lyricstreet.com (February 9, 2003).
- "Rascal Flatts," Country Stars.com, http://www.countrystars.com (February 2, 2003).
- "Rascal Flatts Biography," VH1.com, http://www.vh1.com (February 2, 2003).
- "Rascal Flatts Interview," About: Country, http://countrymusic.about.com (February 2, 2003).
- Rascal Flatts Official Website, http://www.rascalflatts.com (February 2, 2003).
- "Rascal Flatts Soak up Success," CMT.com, http://www.cmt.com (February 2, 2003).
- "This Rascal Is Well-Behaved," Kansas.com, http://www.kansas.com (February 2, 2003).
- Additional information was taken from Lyric Street Records press releases.
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