In fact, I would venture to say the backup plan worked out even better than the original in this case.
Back in 2006, Eric Church landed a new country artist’s dream gig, opening up for Rascal Flatts on the Me and My Gang Tour, which (believe it or not) was one of the biggest country tours in the world at the time.
It’s not hard to see why it was a marriage doomed to fail from the start. The slicked-back, polished, pop-country style of Rascal Flatts paired with the rocking, in-your-face, don’t-give-a-shit swagger from Eric Church was never really a fit to begin with.
But obviously things worked out pretty well for Chief.
After he was kicked off the tour (and replaced by an up and coming artist named Taylor Swift), Church began following the tour around from city to city, booking shows at rock clubs on the same night as the Flatts tour was filling up arenas. Eric called it the Me and Myself Tour.
“Oh yeah, they hated it. Yeah they knew what we were doing.”
But along the way, Church managed to catch the attention of another artist who was a better fit for his style: Rock and roll icon Bob Seger.
According to Church, Seger reached out to him and offered him a spot opening for Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band – at a time when other tours were afraid to give Church another chance after the incident with the Rascal Flatts tour:
“Bob Seger was a guy who saved my career. He hired me to open for him in 2006 at a time when I wasn’t getting much work. He heard my first album, “Sinners Like Me, and invited me to open for him.”
And Church says this one made more sense for him:
“Bob has always been my guy. If you give me one artist, it’s Bob Seger. There’s something “blue collar” about him that I relate to. You probably hear more of him in my music than anyone else.”
As he became a superstar himself, Church has paid tribute to Seger many times over the years, including this past weekend when he made a stop at Pine Knob Music Theatre in Seger’s home state of Michigan during opening weekend of the Outsiders Revival Tour.
Before launching into a 12-minute, eight-song Seger medley, Church again spoke about the impact that Bob Seger had on his career:
“The next phone call we got was Bob Seger, and it went something to the effect of, ‘You can’t open for them, but you can open for me,’ so that’s what we did…I would not be here at all if it weren’t for Bob Seger.”
And before paying tribute to Seger, Church also recalled, the last time he had been at Pine Knob was in 2019 for a Bob Seger concert during the legend’s final tour:
“Right there, right by the sound board, I watched Bob Seger burn this son of a bitch down. So tonight…it just feels like the right thing to do.”
Honoring not only a legend (and one of my favorites to ever do it), but also one of the guys who got Eric Church to where he is today.
I think we can all agree that a Rascal Flatts medley from Church just wouldn’t hit the same.
Channeling His Inner Bob Seger
It’s no secret that Eric Church is is a BIG Bob Seger guy.
In fact, his 2021 single “Heart On Fire” is even reminiscent of Bob’s hit single “Night Moves.”
According to an interview with Billboard, Eric is well aware:
“It’s ok if I’m ripping off Bob… there’s worse people to rip off.”
It was also the first song written and recorded for the Heart & Soul triple album, a song that set the tone for the entire month-long writing/recording session:
“The band was a little confused about what was going on. Everybody up there was kind of wondering how this was going to go.
That song really helped me because I knew I loved the song, I knew it had the potential to be really good, and it was a good icebreaker to have people get in the groove.”