When Eric Church earned the opening slot on Rascal Flatts' Me and My Gang Tour in 2006, the invitation was short-lived. Church abruptly got fired from the tour, after going over his allotted time too many times, and not caring what his tour bosses requested of him. Church was replaced by then-rising star, Taylor Swift, who had just released her debut single, "Tim McGraw."
"Doing my own thing and just being stubborn about it early on, yes, got me kicked off there," Church said while speaking at the recent Country Radio Seminar in Nashville (via The Tennessean).
Swift gladly took Church's spot, but gave Church a thoughtful gift to make sure he wasn't upset with her that she replaced his role on the tour.
"She wanted to make sure there was no bad blood," Church recalled. "She had just had the 'Tim McGraw' song. I joked with her and said 'You owe me your first gold album.' Four days later ... sure enough, she came to a show of mine and she had [a gold album]. I still have it. It's in the Hall of Fame, I think. It said, 'Eric, thanks for playing too long and too loud on the Rascal Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it.'"
Rascal Flatts did everything they could do to keep Church on their Me and My Gang Tour, including giving him more time on stage.
“We asked him four times to stay to the allotted amount of time that he had to play,” DeMarcus recalled (via The Boot). “We sat him down in our dressing room and were like, ‘Look. We’ll put you on early so you can play longer. But please, just be off the stage because we still have to do our show.’"
Unfortunately, after their final warning, Church showed up late for his own set and stayed on stage 20 minutes later than he was supposed to, prompting the trio to fire him from the tour.
“It was just a bit disrespectful because when you’re an opening act, we did our best to abide by the rules that the headliner laid out for us,” DeMarcus recalled. “And you just do that and there was no goodwill being sent back to us, and it wasn't worth the trouble, so we said, 'See ya.'"
Church's career wasn't permanently hindered by the firing. He just received three ACM Awards nominations, bringing his grand total to 30 nods. Church is nominated, as both songwriter and artist, for Song of the Year, for "Some of It," as well as the night's highest honor, Entertainer of the Year.
The 2020 ACM Awards will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 5, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
Photo Credit: Getty / David Becker