January 15

Check Out These 6 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Diamond Rio

The country music band Diamond Rio has been around since 1989, and they’ve undeniably built an impressive music career; here’s a quick fire of facts about them: They have been named Vocal Group of the Year six times, with 14 Grammy nominations and one Grammy award for their album The Reason. They have sold over 6.8 million albums, surpassed over 1.05 billion global streams, and charted 20 Top 10 singles, 15 Top 5 tracks, and seven number ones. 

Now that we all know that, let’s get to the rather obscure facts about them.

1. The Band was Founded in 1982 as an Attraction for a Theme Park 

While Diamond Rio was officially formed in 1989, they were actually first formed in 1982 as an attraction act for the Opryland USA theme park in Nashville. Matt Davenport, Danny Gregg, and Ty Herndon served as the three pioneering band members. The band was originally intended to do a one-time promotion for the park through a TV special, but they became so popular that they earned a regular position. 

They’ve had several member changes during their early years. By 1989, they had solidified into a six-member band: Marty Roe was in charge of lead vocals and rhythm guitar. Gene Johnson on tenor vocals and three instruments: the mandolin, guitar, and fiddle. Jimmy Olander was on lead guitar and banjo, Brian Pout was on drums, Dan Truman was on keyboards, and last but not least, Dana Williams was on baritone vocals and bass guitar. 

Then, in 2022, Prout and Johnson both exited and were replaced by Micah Schweinsberg and Carson McKee, respectively. 

2. They Joined the Ed McMahon-hosted TV Show Star Search 

After three years on the job at the park, they decided to quit. According to Roe, despite enjoying it, their status as a “theme park attraction” became a barrier to them being credited as real musicians. Then, they had a sporadic schedule for the next years – playing at small venues like high school auditoriums and mostly getting booked for no more than four concerts a month. 

At one point, they even joined Star Show, a TV show under Rysher Entertainment hosted by Ed McMahon. Unfortunately, they were eliminated in the first round. 

3. They Had Two Name Changes Before Officially Becoming Diamond Rio 

They were initially called the Grizzly River Boys, named after a river rafting ride back at the Opry park. However, the members disliked the name and quickly changed it to Tennessee River Boys. 

Then, in 1989, when they signed with Arista Nashville, they decided to have a new name since their current one sounded more bluegrass and gospel than country. Two of the options were Kilroy and T-Town Mavericks, with the latter rejected by Arista executives. Finally, they settled with Diamond Rio – a name suggested by their drummer, Pout, after a truck manufacturing company. 

But before them, a band known as Shenandoah previously used that name briefly. They eventually rejected it, and the lead singer, Marty Raybon, permitted Prout to use it. 

4. They Were the First Band Ever to Top the Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart With a Debut Single 

Diamond Rio officially debuted in February 1991 with the single “Meet in the Middle.” The track reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, making the band the first country music band to do so.

5. They Were the First Band in Fourteen Years to Get Inducted Into the Grand Ole Opry in 1998 

Seven years after debuting as Diamond Rio, they were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. And they were the first in fourteen years to be inducted into it. 

6. Their lead vocalist, Marty Roe, Had Pitch Problems Starting in 2001 

In 2001, the band members noticed that their lead vocalist, Marty Roe, was having pitch problems. They didn’t want to confront him about it, fearing it would bruise his ego. However, they eventually decided to tell him and convinced him by watching concert recordings with him. 

The problem persisted for some time as Roe’s initial consultations were unsuccessful. So, the band removed some songs from the setlist, lowered the key, and had Truman temporarily take the lead at times.

Thankfully, they found Diana Sheets, who was able to determine the root cause of the problem. It was a small degree of hearing loss typically seen in musicians like Roe, who had been performing live for long periods of time. At first, Roe was cynical about it, but she restored his voice. 

Now that you know more about Diamond Rio with these facts, we hope you have gained an appreciation of them. And one way to do this is to tune in to Diamond Rio’s songs and give them love. 


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