Since its founding back in 2000, Rascal Flatts has not failed to serve authentic, infectious, and arena-rocking music that not only influenced and impacted fans but fellow artists and the genre as well as a whole. And as proof, throughout their two-decade career, they racked up 17 chart-topping hits, sold over 23 million albums, and earned 2.2 billion streams worldwide. They also bagged more than 40 trophies, making them the most awarded country group of the past decade.
But just last year, the country group announced that they’re disbanding, which left everyone shocked and sad. Even though their era came to an end (and not in the best way imagined), we still have 20 years’ worth of good music to celebrate. Let’s take a look back.
1999: The Beginning of an Era
Vocalist Gary LeVox and multi-instrumentalist Jay DeMarcus are actually blood-related, second cousins who were both raised in musical families. In 1992, DeMarcus made his move to Nashville and earned his first record deal as a member of the Christian group East to West. But it was only in 1997 that he and his cousin LeVox actually had the chance to work together. DeMarcus convinced LeVox to come to Nashville and provide vocal harmonies for a Michael English album that he was producing at the time.
After engineering the album together, they became English’s backup band. At the same time, DeMarcus was also the bandleader for Chely Wright, and this was where he first met guitarist Joe Don Rooney. But the trio’s first performance together was actually just by accident.
DeMarcus and LeVox were working that night in a Printer’s Alley nightclub when their part-time guitarist couldn’t make it. And so, they called Rooney and asked if he could join them. He said yes, and the group covered Shenandoah’s single “The Church on Cumberland Road” for that night’s performance. And the next thing they knew, their group got signed to Lyric Street.
As the story went, they were recommended by singer Mila Mason to record producers Mark Bright and Marty Williams, who then played a three-song demo to Lyric Street Records A&R Doug Howard. They were invited for a live acoustic performance, and Howard was just blown away with their vocal and harmonies that it would be a mistake not to sign them.
2000: The Impact of Rascal Flatts
Rascal Flatts made their debut in early 2000 with one of the songs that got them signed titled “Prayin’ for Daylight.” And true enough, this song launched them right into stardom, peaking at number 3 on the Billboard country charts. Their follow-up singles – “This Everyday Love,” “While You Loved Me,” and “I’m Movin’ On” – did not disappoint as well debuting at the Top 10 on the chart.
Two years later, they released their sophomore album titled Melt which they co-produced themselves. With this album, Rascal Flatts earned their first chart-topping single, “These Days,” on the US Country charts. And ever since then, they became an unstoppable force, spawning hits one after the other – totaling 17 number one hits in 20 years. Two of their most popular songs include “What Hurts The Most” and “My Wish.”
The country trio also had a large impact on digital streaming with 2.2 billion streams worldwide and 4.4 billion streams on Pandora alone. Rascal Flatt songs also filled arenas, selling over 11 million concert tickets.
2020: The End of an Era
But the era of Rascal Flatts came to an end last year. They announced their farewell tour for their 20th anniversary in January but unfortunately, the tour was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For some time, it looked like the country trio still planned to fulfill the dates once the pandemic restriction eases. DeMarcus even said that the pandemic may have changed their plans, and instead of a farewell tour, they may stay together and still perform 10-15 concerts annually.
But a recent interview with vocalist Gary LeVox revealed that the farewell was rather chaotic. He told People Magazine that he was never okay with how their band ended and hinted that the band started to fracture after one member decided to quit.
Then he proceeded to admit that their guitarist Joe Don left the band out of nowhere, and he couldn’t wrap his head around it. He also added that with the pandemic canceling everything, they didn’t get a farewell tour, and it just felt like they had no closure for over 20 years of a career that they have been blessed with.
2021: Going Their Own Ways
After the band breakup was confirmed, the members went their own separate ways. Vocalist Gary LeVox released a Christmas song last year titled “Christmas Will Be Different This Year,” while earlier this year, Jay DeMarcus dropped the song “Music Man” as a tribute to his late father. On the other hand, Joe Rooney was arrested last September on a DUI charge after he hit a line of trees outside Nashville.