Early in his career, Thomas Rhett was opening up for Toby Keith, and the "Country Again" singer recalled a "kind of terrifying" experience he had with the country star during a recent interview with Audacy's Rob + Holly. The tour was Keith’s Live in Overdrive Tour in 2012, and Rhett had come down with tonsillitis.
"It was my very first tour I’d ever been on," he recalled. "I was 21 years old and Toby brought me out as an opening slot on his amphitheater tour. It was the last weekend of the tour and I was so sick." Rhett shared that he had been "exhausted the whole year" and ultimately went to the doctor, where "the doctor told me I had tonsillitis caused from like, mono." As a result, during his last show with Keith, Rhett's tonsils "were so big in my mouth, they were touching each other in the back of my throat."
Rhett told his tour manager that he didn't think he would be able to play the last show, and his tour manager told him to tell Keith. "I walk over to Toby's bus and I walk up there and I notice that he's kind of holding his stomach," he said. "I was like, 'Toby, I’m not going to be able to play tonight, man. I’m too sick, I can’t sing.' In a roundabout way of using some other language, Toby said, 'Well, it’s alright man, I had my gallbladder taken out early today so if you want to be a pansy about it, be my guest.'"
After a response like that, Rhett wasn't about to back out. "Needless to say I went out there and played the show and then threw my guts up the whole night," he said, adding that the interaction was a "man-making moment." The 31-year-old is now headlining tours of his own, though he's been familiar with road life since he was in elementary school, thanks to his country singer dad, Rhett Akins.
"I’ve been doing this for ten years, but I’ve kinda been doin’ it for 25 years," Rhett told Rob + Holly. "I’m only 31 years old, but I did grow up on a tour bus pretty much. From the time I was eight or nine years old I was always trying to figure out ways to get out of school on a Thursday to hop on the bus with my Dad to watch him go play fairs and festivals."