With stellar harmonies, skilled musicianship and an arsenal of great songs, Rascal Flatts has become one of country music’s most successful groups. For nearly two decades, lead vocalist Gary LeVox, bassist Jay DeMarcus and guitarist Joe Don Rooney have scored hit after hit and consistently been among the busiest acts on the touring circuit.
It all began for the talented trio in Nashville’s famed Printer’s Alley, a downtown clutch of local bars and nightclubs where aspiring musicians would showcase their skills. Each member of Rascal Flatts had been toiling away in Music City trying to get their career off the ground, but when the trio performed together one night, lightning struck.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Jay moved to Nashville in 1993. His first taste of success was as one half of the contemporary Christian music duo East to West. After the duo disbanded in 1997, he called his cousin Gary to come to Nashville and add harmony to a gospel record he was producing for Michael English. While working as a bandleader for country singer Chely Wright, he met Joe Don. One night when he and Gary were scheduled to play a gig in Printer’s Alley and their guitarist couldn’t make it, he called Joe Don to join in and the rest is history.
In 1999, the trio signed with Disney’s Lyric Street Records, and a year later released their first single, “Prayin’ for Daylight.” The song peaked at No. 3 and paved the way for their self-titled debut album. The next three singles from the project —“This Everyday Love,” “While You Loved Me” and “I’m Movin’ On”— all landed in the top 10, and “I’m Movin’ On” was named Song of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in 2002. The band members co-produced their sophomore effort, “Melt,” scored their first No. 1 hit with “These Days” and hit the summit again with the upbeat, nostalgic hit “Mayberry.”
Throughout the years, the hits kept coming. “Bless the Broken Road” spent five weeks at No. 1 in 2005. The poignant ballad “What Hurts the Most” became a huge crossover hit, climbing to No. 1 on both the country and adult contemporary charts, as well as top 10 on “Billboard’s” Hot 100. Rascal Flatts’ lengthy list of hits also includes such modern-day classics as “My Wish,” “Fast Cars and Freedom,” “Stand” and “Take Me There.” After Lyric Street closed its doors in 2010, Rascal Flatts signed with Big Machine Label Group and launched another successful chapter that has included such hits as “Changed,” “Rewind” and “I Like the Sound of That.”
Rascal Flatts won six consecutive vocal group of the year awards from the Country Music Association and seven consecutive vocal group titles from the Academy of Country Music. In addition to regularly touring, in recent years they have enjoyed several successful residencies in Las Vegas, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and The Venetian.
Away from the spotlight, each member is a devoted family man. Jay and his wife Allison have a daughter, Madeline, and a son Dylan. Gary and his wife Tara have two daughters, Britanny and Brooklyn. Joe Don and wife Tiffany have three children, Jagger, Raquel (nicknamed Rocky) and Devon. Well known for their philanthropic efforts, Rascal Flatts has donated millions to Vanderbilt’s Monroe Carrell Children’s Hospital in Nashville.