When it comes to the country music that I grew up with, there’s no bigger name for me than Travis Tritt.
The man is a legend in my book (and for many others too), and he’s grown into one of the “elder statesman” of country music who’s leading the way and influencing a whole new generation of artists.
But on a recent episode of The Justin Moore Podcast, Travis spent some time talking about one of his biggest influences – and the pranks they played on each other.
I’ve only seen Travis live once, and I was lucky enough to see him when he was playing a show with Charlie Daniels. Travis and Charlie were great friends, with Travis comparing Charlie to a “grandfather figure” to him on the podcast. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have some fun with each other when they played shows together.
If you’ve seen Travis in concert, you know that his shows are high-energy, high-production performances. Well it turns out that at one point in his career, Travis had bought a $1-million stage – and the only way he could get out onto the stage to make his entrance without being seen by the crowd was by being wheeled out in a road case.
And I’ll let Travis take it from here:
“Charlie Daniels got me good one night. I went to get in that case, and he had just played right before me. And I went to go get in that case, and he had snuck in there first. And he had those big googly-eyed glasses with the springs on them…and he just sprung out…
And scared the shit out of me.”
But Travis managed to pay Charlie back later in the tour.
“I waited ’till the very end of the tour. And to get him back – he was so focused, he didn’t like distractions, you know, and stuff on his stage. So I waited ’till the last night of the tour.
And I got one of my road crew, my guitar tech, and another guy in our crew, and they went out to a local costume rental place and one of them rented a chicken suit – a full chicken suit – and the other one rented a rabbit suit.
And so in the middle of one of the songs – I don’t even remember which one it was, but one of the songs – I sent both of them guys from opposite sides of the stage out there, and they’re dancing all around Charlie, and he’s looking around like ‘What in the hell?’
And then he sees me standing off to the side just laughing and he goes ‘Ohh I see what you did right there.'”
Travis also spent some time talking about how Charlie helped him out when they were first started playing together.
According to Travis, back when he was brand new and opening for Charlie, a venue put him and his band in a literal broom closet for a dressing room. But when Charlie came down to introduce himself before the show and saw Travis’ accommodations, Charlie himself took matters into his own hands:
“Charlie came down the first night before the show just to introduce himself. And he walked up, ‘Hey y’all, I’m Charlie, I just wanted to say it’s a pleasure having y’all onboard.
And he looked around the room and goes ‘What is this room?’ I said ‘It’s our dressing room, sir.’
He said ‘I’ll be damned.’
He said ‘Y’all wait right here.’ And he left, and he came back about five minutes later and he said ‘Y’all come follow me.’
And like a bunch of little ducklings following a mother duck, we followed him down this long hallway. And he came and stopped in front of two double doors that swung in like this…and he swung those doors open and it was a room that was big enough to land a plane in.”
It turns out Charlie had taken Travis and his band to his own dressing room – which he told Travis was now his dressing room too.
Travis goes on to talk about how, at the end of the tour, Charlie gave him his cell phone numbers (yes, back in those days cell phones weren’t quite as portable as they are today so people had multiple cell phones in different locations) and told him to call him anytime.
And as Travis admits, “I probably used those numbers more than I should have, but he was always that guy that always was there to answer on the other end of the phone.”
The country music world truly lost a legend when we lost Charlie Daniels last year. But although Travis is probably too humble to admit it, it’s great that we have guys like him to step up and fill those shoes that Charlie left behind.
You can – and should – watch or listen to the whole interview with Travis on The Justin Moore Podcast, because as a legend of the industry, the man has more insight and perspective on country music than just about anybody in the business.
Travis Tritt, man. What a legend.
Tritt’s version of “Long Haired Country Boy” is one for the ages.