Last updated: 06/11/2012 12:00:00 PM
As the name implies, all of Lonestar's members drifted into Music City from Texas. Dean Sams was working at the Country Music USA show at the Opryland theme park (as were future recording artists Ken Mellons, Chely Wright and James Bonamy) when Dean began rounding up personnel for a band. By late 1992, he'd recruited singer/songwriter Richie McDonald and two former members of the band Canyon -- Michael Britt and Keech Rainwater.
From the get-go they shared a tremendous work ethic. Lonestar hit the road and performed more than 500 shows in 1993-94. Traveling in a Jeep Cherokee pulling an equipment trailer, the guys did four or five sets a night in town after town. One of the performances was as the "house band" at the grand opening of the Wildhorse Saloon dancehall in downtown Nashville.
Lonestar promoted itself with a six-song live CD and a string of label showcases. After some near-misses, the band was offered a recording contract on BNA Records and their debut single, "Tequila Talkin'," became a Top 5 hit in 1995.
The band continued to work like mad, visiting radio stations, doing showcase performances and taking advantage of every promotional opportunity. The Jeep became a van, then a tour bus.
The hard work paid off in 1999. The endless string of shows had polished Lonestar into a superb performing unit. When "No News" became a disc sensation, the band was ready. The single hit No. 1 and remained there for three weeks. The Academy of Country Music named the band its Top New Group of the Year. "Runnin' Away With My Heart," co-written by Michael Britt, hit the Top 10. Billboard, Music Row and Country Weekly all gave year-end awards to the band. The Lonestar album became a gold record and it is now nearing platinum sales levels.
Crazy Nights was issued as the second Lonestar collection in 1997. "Come Cryin' To Me" became the act's second No. 1 single, and Bryan Adams and Mutt Lange provided yet another rhythmic hit with "You Walked In."
In 1998 Lonestar revealed a new dimension. Previously noted for its catchy uptempo performances, the band issued "Say When" as its first ballad single. That was followed by the touching "Everything's Changed," co-written by Richie McDonald, which became yet another No. 1 hit.
That set the stage for the recording of Lonely Grill. In typical fashion, the band threw itself into the creation of its third album with gusto. Song searches became eight hours a day, five days a week listening marathons at BNA. Recording sessions became long, stimulating studio experiences where guitar sounds, percussion touches, keyboard techniques and vocal harmonies were developed and shared.
And it paid off. One of the album's singles, "Amazed," flew to the top of the charts and stayed there for eight weeks in 1999, breaking records and catapulting the band to stardom.
"I think we are still learning, every day, to be better at what we do," says lead singer McDonald. "The fans can count on us. They know how much we appreciate them. It's not like we are separate from the people, we are the people."
"We just like to jam," says Britt. "That's Lonestar."