Rascal Flatts is an American country music group composed of Gary LeVox (lead vocals), Jay DeMarcus (bass guitar, keyboard, piano, vocals) and Joe Don Rooney (lead guitar, vocals). LeVox and DeMarcus are second cousins.
During the 2000–10 decade, Rascal Flatts recorded for Disney Music Group’s Lyric Street Records. While on that label, the band released seven albums, all of which have been certified platinum or higher by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In order of release, these albums are Rascal Flatts (2000), Melt (2002), Feels Like Today (2004), Me and My Gang (2006), Still Feels Good (2007), Greatest Hits Volume 1 (2008) and Unstoppable (2009). After Lyric Street closed in 2010, Rascal Flatts moved to the independent Big Machine Records, releasing Nothing Like This in November 2010. Their eighth studio album, Changed, was released in April 2012.
Rascal Flatts’ studio albums have accounted for 26 single releases. All of these have charted within the top 20 or higher on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including 12 which reached number one. The band’s longest-lasting number-one single, a cover of Marcus Hummon’s “Bless the Broken Road”, spent five weeks in that position in early 2005. The late 2005–early 2006 release “What Hurts the Most” was a number one on both the country and adult contemporary charts, and peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100.
Rascal Flatts’ founding was at Fiddle and Steel Guitar Bar in Nashville, Tennessee. Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus are second cousins from a musical family. (DeMarcus’s brother-in-law, James Otto, is also a country music artist.) DeMarcus moved to Nashville in 1992, earning his first record deal as part of a Christian group called East to West. In 1997, DeMarcus called LeVox, and convinced him to come to Nashville and provide some harmonies on Michael English’s album Gospel, for which he was producing. They engineered the album together, and became English’s back-up band.
At the same time, DeMarcus had become the bandleader of Chely Wright’s band, where he met Joe Don Rooney, the guitarist in that band. DeMarcus and LeVox were working in an alley nightclub, and when their part-time guitarist could not make it one night, DeMarcus invited Rooney to sit in.
Singer Mila Mason recommended the group to record producers Mark Bright and Marty Williams, who played Lyric Street Records A&R Doug Howard a three-song demo and Howard thought they were “just incredible”. After he’d heard the demos, the band went into the Lyric Street offices the next day, sat down with acoustic guitars and played a couple of songs. According to Howard in an interview with HitQuarters: “The vocals and harmonies, it was all there – I was just blown away. The lead singer has such a unique and compelling voice.” The band was signed to Lyric Street in late 1999.
2000–2005: Rascal Flatts, Melt and Feels Like Today
In early 2000, the group made its debut with the single “Prayin’ for Daylight”, a song that had been on the three-song demo that had got the band signed. The song, which reached number three on the Billboard country charts, was the first single from their self-titled debut, which was issued in early 2000 on Lyric Street. Following “Prayin’ for Daylight”, the album’s other three singles all made top ten on that chart: “This Everyday Love”, “While You Loved Me”, and “I’m Movin’ On”, which respectively peaked at numbers 9, 7 and 4. “I’m Movin’ On” was awarded Song of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in 2002.
The album was met with positive reviews. Stephen Thomas Erlewine called it “a sunny, pleasing modern country-pop album”.
Melt was the title of their second album, released in 2002. Unlike their previous album, Rascal Flatts co-produced Melt. Its first single, “These Days”, also became their first number-one single on the country charts. The album included two more top ten hits, “Love You Out Loud” and “I Melt”, and the band’s second number-one single, “Mayberry”. The music video for “I Melt” featured partial nudity, and as a result, the video was banned from the Great American Country network.
Rascal Flatts’ third album was entitled Feels Like Today, and it was released in late 2004. The album’s title track was its first single, followed by “Bless the Broken Road”. This latter song was originally recorded by its co-writer, Marcus Hummon, and had also been recorded by Melodie Crittenden (whose version made the country charts in 1998), Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Sons of the Desert. In early 2005, Rascal Flatts’ version of the song spent five weeks at number one. After this song, “Fast Cars and Freedom” also went to number one. While this song was climbing the charts, some radio stations began playing a hidden track on the album, titled “Skin”. This unsolicited airplay caused “Skin” to enter the top 40, and after “Fast Cars and Freedom” peaked, it was released as a single under the title “Skin (Sarabeth)” and officially added to the album’s track list.
2005–2007: Me and My Gang and Still Feels Good
Rascal Flatts’ thirteenth chart entry, “What Hurts the Most”, was released in December 2005. This song, which had previously been recorded by Mark Wills in 2003, was the first single from their fourth album, 2006′s Me and My Gang. For this album, the band worked with producer Dann Huff. “What Hurts the Most” was a crossover hit, reaching number one at both country and adult contemporary, as well as top 10 on the Hot 100 charts. After it, the album’s title track charted in the top ten, and both “My Wish” and “Stand” made number one.
Also in 2006, the group charted in the top 10 of the Hot 100 with a cover of Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is a Highway”, which they recorded for the Pixar film Cars. Although “Life Is a Highway” was not released to country radio, several country stations began playing the song, causing it to chart within the top 20 of Hot Country Songs.
Me and My Gang had the highest US debut of 2006, with 722,000 units in April. The album spent 15 weeks as the number one album on the Billboard Country Chart and was the second-best selling album of 2006 (behind High School Musical) with sales totaling 3.5 million by year’s end. The album’s success led the band to take the spot of top-selling artist for all genres of music, which hadn’t been accomplished in 15 years by a country group.
Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts performed together at the 2007 Grammy Awards ceremony. Later the same year, the group released the single “Take Me There”, a song which Kenny Chesney co-wrote and had initially planned to record himself. It became a number-one country hit in September and was the first single from their album Still Feels Good. It was followed by “Winner at a Losing Game”, the first single which the band wrote itself. Both it and its follow-up “Every Day” peaked at number two on the country charts. The fourth single from Still Feels Good, “Bob That Head”, became the band’s first single to miss the top ten at country radio. The album’s fifth and final single, “Here”, was released in August 2008 and became their ninth Number One hit on the chart week of January 3, 2009.
2008–2010: Greatest Hits Volume 1 and Unstoppable
Rascal Flatts released their first greatest hits CD, Greatest Hits Volume 1, on October 28, 2008. The album contains 13 of their biggest songs, starting with “Prayin’ for Daylight” and going through “Life Is a Highway”. The limited edition of the album contains a second disc with three Christmas songs: “White Christmas”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. A year later in October 2009, they released a second edition of their greatest hits collection, this time with a second disc containing live performances of “Take Me There”, “Summer Nights”, “Me & My Gang”, and “Winner at a Losing Game”.
Rascal Flatts released the first single, “Here Comes Goodbye”, from their album Unstoppable to radio on January 20, 2009, and the album was released on April 7. The song was co-written byAmerican Idol season 6 finalist Chris Sligh. The second single, “Summer Nights”, co-written by Gary LeVox, was released in early May 2009, debuted at No. 57 and topped out at No. 2 on the country charts. The group performed “Summer Nights” at the CMT Music Awards, Oprah’s Kickoff Party, and the finale of America’s Got Talent. The third single off the album, “Why”, peaked at No. 18 on the country charts. Rascal Flatts performed “Why” on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. The band released their fourth single, “Unstoppable”, in January 2010.
A special release version of their album Unstoppable is available at JCPenney stores nationwide. It features a special release song entitled “American Living” only available on the albums sold at JCPenney stores. JCPenney is an official sponsor of Rascal Flatts’ Unstoppable American Living Tour in a two-year partnership and $1 of every CD sold at JCPenney will be donated to theJCPenney Afterschool Fund. On July 16, 2009, as part of the JCPenney American Living Tour, Rascal Flatts made history as the first country music group to play Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The trio was joined by fellow artists Vince Gill and Darius Rucker for a near-sellout crowd.
2010–2011: Nothing Like This and The Best of Rascal Flatts Live
After the closure of Lyric Street in April 2010, Rascal Flatts signed to Big Machine Records in July of the same year. The group’s first release for the label was “Why Wait”. Their next album Nothing Like This was released November 16. In December 2010, this song became the trio’s eleventh number-one single on the country music charts.
In March 2011, Rascal Flatts was featured on a remix of Justin Bieber’s song “That Should Be Me”.
The second single from Nothing Like This was “I Won’t Let Go”, which went to number two in early 2011. Following it was the band’s first collaborative release to country radio, “Easy”, which features a duet vocal from British singer Natasha Bedingfield.
On November 8, 2011, Hollywood Records released The Best of Rascal Flatts Live.
2012–present: Changed and All Access & Uncovered: The Making of Changed and Beyond
Rascal Flatts’ eighth studio album, Changed, was released on April 3, 2012. It was produced by Dann Huff and Rascal Flatts. The first single from the album, “Banjo”, reached number one on the Billboard Country Songs chart. It became their 12th number one hit on that chart. The second single off the album, “Come Wake Me Up”, reached the top five on the Country Airplay chart. The third single from the album is the title track, “Changed”.
Rascal Flatts member Jay DeMarcus and his wife, CMT Insider correspondent Allison DeMarcus, welcomed the arrival of their second child, Dylan Jay DeMarcus, on July 20 in Nashville.
Rascal Flatts received the 2,480th star in the category of recording of the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 17, 2012. The star is located in front of the Sergeant Supply Store at 6664 Hollywood Boulevard. They become the second country artist with Oklahoma ties to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that month after Vince Gill received his star the previous week.
On November 19, Rascal Flatts released their second DVD, All Access & Uncovered: The Making of Changed and Beyond, inviting the public into their inner circle. The DVD project reveals a more intimate side of Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus’ lives during the making of their Changed album and more. The project made a one-night-only debut in movie theaters across the country in conjunction with the album release earlier that year, with the band celebrating with fans at the AMC Theater in New York City’s Times Square.
On November 20, the band made a guest appearance on NBC’s The Voice to promote their new DVD. They performed “Changed” with Cody Belew and Cassadee Pope, contestants from the show.
In December 2012, Rascal Flatts and Nashville actress Hayden Panettiere hosted the third annual 2012 CMT Artists of the Year to honor the top country acts of the year. Rascal Flatts also hosted The 14th Annual A Home for the Holidays with Rascal Flatts. The show earned a 4.91(million) rating.
Lionheart Music Group, a Swedish independent company within the Universal Music Group, announced they will release Rascal Flatts’ album, Changed, on January 2, 2013 in Sweden. Earlier, Rascal Flatts re-recorded their hit “Come Wake Me Up” with Swedish country/pop female singer, Jill Johnson, who is also under Lionheart Music Group, as a duet version on Johnson’s new album, A Woman Can Change Her Mind. The duet version was also released as a digital download internationally on November 16, 2012. The record label also released their former album, Nothing Like This, on January 23, 2013.
Rascal Flatts and Journey headlined the Super Bowl XLVII CMT Crossroads concert at the New Orleans Sugar Mill on February 2, 2013. This marked the second collaboration for Rascal Flatts and Journey. In June 2012, Rascal Flatts closed the CMT Music Awards by inviting Journey to perform their hit “Don’t Stop Believin’” with them on stage.
Rascal Flatts was nominated for International Artist of the Year and International Music Video of the Year (for “Banjo” and “Come Wake Me Up”) at the 2013 CMC Music Awards.