Eric Church keeps a record of names in his pocket while on stage, but you don’t want to make the country singer’s list.
While Church is one of the biggest names in country music, he was not an overnight success. Church’s father paid for his first six months in Nashville after the two struck a deal that the singer would finish his college degree. During the star’s early days in Music City, Church received some brutal commentary on his musical style.
In an interview with Classic Rock, Church recalled being rejected in a particularly icy manner. The country star explained:
“I remember I saw this one publisher three or four times and they paid for a demo, then said: ‘Hey, we want you to come play for the head of the company.’ So I sit down and played Lightning, a song that ended up on my first album.”
When Church began singing the verse of the song, the industry executive held up his hand. At first, Church thought that the man wanted to sign him, but instead, the executive gave the country singer a piece of harsh advice.
“I thought he was going to go: ‘We’re signing you right now!’ But he said: ‘I don’t know where you’re from, but if I were you I’d go back there,'” Church remembered. “I packed my sh-t up and left the office with my tail between my legs.”
Instead of giving up, Church played the same song for Sony Tree Publishing and was signed on the spot. Still, Church has not forgotten the people who turned him down. The country star wrote the names of all the people who passed on his career, and he keeps the list in his pocket when he performs.
“There’s a motivation in being told no, that you can’t do something. It’s part of paying your dues,” Church admitted.
For more on Church’s career, check out the following video.