JAM Magazine Main Features

Joe Nichols - Country Fever 2008 - Jun. 12-15

Tequila Does What?

They say it’s the people you least expect to make an impact on your life that are the ones you end up thanking forever. Joe Nichols is no exception. This Arkansas native literally took the roundabout way to country success – scoring his first major hit six years after landing his initial record deal.

Originally from Rogers, Arkansas, Nichols grew up watching his truck-driving father play bass in a local country band. Though young Joe played in a rock group during his teenage years, he eventually returned to the music he grew up listening to. After high school, Nichols took a night job as a deejay while supporting himself during the day as a mechanic. It was there he met record producer Randy Edwards while fixing his car. Encouraged by his rich voice, the producer took the teen under his wing, and began working with him. With Edwards readily available for guidance, Nichols began to work on his singing and songwriting skills.

Edwards’ belief in the singing mechanic paid off. At age 20, Nichols landed a record deal with Intersound. In 1996, the Edwards’ produced self-titled debut was released. A single, “Six of One, Half a Dozen (Of the Other)” was a minor hit, but the album didn’t sell well and the budding singer was dropped. Warner Bros. however, was impressed enough with the voice, to take a chance and sign him. Again, luck seemed to be fleeting. A series of label mergers within the WEA organization left Joe out in the cold. Having relocated to Nashville, Nichols was forced to work day jobs while he searched in vain for a new deal.

In 1999, another chance encounter saw Nichols strike up a friendship with a guitarist named Brent Rowan, perhaps the most prolific and sought-after studio guitar player on Music Row. Rowan taught Nichols the ropes in Music City, especially when it came to selecting songs to make your own. Two years after their initial meeting, Rowan helped land Nichols a recording contract with Universal South Records. His label debut, Man with a Memory, was released in 2002, and its lead single, the heart-felt ballad “The Impossible,” went to #3 on the country charts, (also crossing over to the pop Top 30). In the wake of its success, his very first album was reissued under the title Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other.

“Brokenheartsville”, another single from Man With a Memory, became Nichols’ first No. 1 country hit when it was released in early 2003. The success of the single propelled the platinum-certified album into the Billboard Country Top Ten. The accolades were suddenly flying fast and furious for Joe Nichols. The Academy of Country Music named him its Top New Male Vocalist. Man With a Memory garnered three Grammy nominations, and Billboard announced that “The Impossible” was the tenth most-played song in 2003.

Nichols spent most of 2004 on tour with Alan Jackson. Two more singles from his still hot major label debut, “She Only Smokes When She Drinks” and “Cool to Be a Fool,” both reached the Top 20. In September of that year, the buzz around Nichols continued with a nomination from the Country Music Awards for its Horizon New Artist Award. Earlier that summer, Nichols had issued his second album for Universal South entitled Revelation. The 11-song disc produced the Top Ten hits “If Nobody Believed in You” and “What’s a Guy Gotta Do”. Later that same year, Nichols also issued an album of Christmas music called A Traditional Christmas. Four tracks from the album received enough airplay on country radio to enter the charts as well.

By the time Nichols finished recording and touring behind Revelation, he was traveling down some very dangerous roads in his personal life. Success had reared its ugly head in the form of booze and drugs. The transformation in his behavior began during the recording of Revelation. Now his modified behavior was starting to destroy relationships he actually cared about. Between the substance abuse and drinking, Nichols moods shifted wildly. Whenever he started feeling sorry for himself, the singer would adopt an “all balls out” approach towards life. By the time III came around, Joe Nichols finally had grown weary of the alter ego he’d created. Burying himself in music, the singer began to work on the daily complications that came with the self-pity he was feeling.

His career received a boost in the summer of 2005 when the memorable single “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” found favor at country radio. As a result, his album, III, was quickly certified gold. ”Tequila” would also go on to become Nichols’ second No. 1 hit. Two other tracks from the record, “I’ll Wait for You” and “Size Matters (Someday),” became Top Ten hits.

Unfortunately, the word “fun” continued to haunt the singer. This time it caught up with him after the release of Real Thing in August 2007. Three weeks after the album charted, Joe Nichols married Heather Singleton, his long time on again, off again sweetheart of 12 years. Three weeks later, the singer entered a rehab program for substance abuse treatment. Despite the highs and lows his life has gone through, on the professional front, Nichols continued to shine. His first single, “Another Side of You” was a Top 20 hit. Currently, a second track from the album, “It Ain’t No Crime” is currently #18 on the Billboard Country charts and climbing.

Record Label: Universal South