Before Brad Paisley was one of the biggest stars in country music, he was just a teenager with a dream who was able to score a spot opening The Judds when they passed through West Virginia. During an appearance on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live last week, Paisley recalled opening for the mother-and-daughter duo, comprised of Naomi Judd and Wynonna Judd.
"That was my first real, really cool thing," he said. "I was 14 when I got to open for them in my hometown. They came through and I got to be the opening act, and there they are. They were as big as it gets, too. It was bizarre. They were wonderful, they were really nice." Paisley added that he is "still friends" with the two women today.
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Growing up in Glen Dale, West Virginia, Paisley began performing at a young age, first at church and moving on to Christmas parties and other town events. After a performance at the Rotary Club, the program director of a radio station in Wheeling, West Virginia asked Paisley and his and, Brad Paisley & The C-Notes, to be a guest on WWVA's Jamboree USA, where he became part of the show's weekly lineup. He spent the next eight years opening for acts like The Judds and George Jones and was the youngest person to be inducted into the Jamboree USA Hall of Fame.
Paisley has said that his maternal grandfather, Warren Jarvis, inspired his love of music and gave him his first guitar. After he and the band scored their gig on Jamboree USA, Paisley said that his grandfather "was just super-proud."
"All of a sudden, he was seeing this guitar he’d given to me become my life," he recalled. About a year later, Jarvis was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. "He basically had three or so months left," Paisley said. "At about that time, I secured my first major headlining gig, opening for The Judds. He was in bad shape, but he got to come see me play. And I think he left this world knowing that he had started something good for me."
After graduating high school, Paisley attended West Liberty State College for two years before receiving a scholarship to Belmont University in Nashville. When he graduated from Belmont, he signed a publishing contract and worked as a songwriter before getting a record deal of his own and going on to massive success.