Steve Wariner Reflects on 'Totally Different World' in Country Music

When Steve Wariner released his self-titled debut album in 1982, very few people offered him guidance, about anything. Wariner drove his van, made his own business decisions and handled publicity by himself – a sharp contrast to the way things are today.

"It's a totally different world. It seems like artists nowadays come right out and they're touring with two huge buses and a huge band," Wariner tells Billboard. "They're already polished with media training. I think back to when I first started, it was a simpler time. In my particular case, there was no such thing as any media training. It was what it was.

"In more cases that not, it was just an old country boy or girl that came out of the woods somewhere to Nashville and started making records," he continues. "In my case, I was pulling a trailer behind a van, and we'd drive up to Maryland or Pennsylvania doing shows. We were only dreaming of getting in buses back then. Nowadays, it's big business right from the start."

Wariner wouldn't change much from those early days, but he does say artists today have an advantage he didn't have back then.

"I look back, and in those days, I didn't even have a manager," the 63-year-old notes. "It was a couple of years after I was on RCA that I had one. If I had to do it over again, not much would I change, but that's one of them. I would have tried to have some more guidance in a managerial way than I did. It was just the naivete of just being young and not knowing, but a lot of people didn't have managers. That's just the way it was."

Wariner has won numerous GRAMMY Awards and had several No. 1 hits, but his favorite career moment is one that was much more personal for him.

"The night that I was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry is high on my list," the Indiana native says of one of his biggest highlights. "My guitar player for the evening was Chet Atkins, which was a pretty good one to have. Miss Minnie Pearl had just passed away and there was a gigantic mural behind me of her. I did her favorite song, 'Have I Told You Lately That I Love You.' I was inducted by Bill, Chet played the guitar for me, and it was an unbelievable moment."


Wariner is working on a new album, recording new versions of his previous hits. Updates can be found at

Photo Credit: Instagram/stevewariner