RANDY, JASON, JAKE: Boys Gone Wild:
From the dog house to the jailhouse, a few of country music's stars had some missteps this year.
- Randy Travis had several brushes with the law over the last year, including assault, public intoxication and a DUI while naked. The good news is that Randy is in recovery mode. He's off the sauce, exercising daily and back in the studio making music.
- Jason Aldean found himself in the dog house after some photos of him flirting with a woman who is not his wife surfaced on TMZ. He quickly owned up to his indiscretion, blaming too much post-show alcohol.
- Jake Owen was handcuffed by police in his hometown of Vero Beach, Florida on Cinco de Mayo for wearing a mask in a fast food restaurant. After ranting on Twitter, Jake saw things a bit more clearly the next day, when he Tweeted, "Y'all I apologize. The Indian River County Sheriff was doing their job. I love hometown. I had too good of a time on Cinco de Mayo."
KEITH, DARIUS: Become Members of the Opry:
In 2012, the Grand Ole Opry welcomed two new members to its ranks -- Keith Urban and Darius Rucker.
Keith said getting an invitation to join the Opry was an outgrowth of his love of country music. "What it means to me is to be inducted into the Opry, they know where my heart is. That's what it means to me to get this induction."
For Darius, the honor gave him a greater feeling of acceptance in the country world. "I knew if I could ever be a member, there's no more conversation about being accepted or anything. I'm in."
TIM AND FAITH, SHANIA: Country Goes Vegas:
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and Shania Twain followed in the footsteps of Cher, Celine Dion and Garth Brooks in 2012 by taking up residency for a series of shows on the Las Vegas Strip. Shania began her two-year stint at Caesars on December 1st, and Tim and Faith began their limited engagement on December 7th at the Venetian.
Garth ended his three-year run at the Wynn earlier this year, sparking rumors that he's getting ready to tour again in 2014.
JAKE OWEN, JO DEE MESSINA: Baby Bumper Crop:
There was a bumper crop of babies in the world of country music in 2012.
- Jake Owen and his wife Lacey became parents to Olivia Pearl.
- Randy Houser's wife Jessa gave birth to a son, West Yantz.
- Mike Eli of the Eli Young Band wife Kacey welcomed daughter, Kline Olivia.
- Joe and Heather Nichols had a daughter named Dylan River.
- Jo Dee Messina and her husband Chris made room for a second son, Jonah Christopher.
- Jennifer Nettles and hubby Justin Miller welcomed son Magnus Hamilton Miller.
- As we moved into December, Jon Jones of Eli Young Band was still awaiting the birth of his child. Love and Theft's Eric Gunderson and his wife are also expecting a baby this year.
At least 11 country stars got hitched this year, and three are heading down the aisle!
- Lee Brice and girlfriend Sara Reeveley got engaged January 2nd.
- Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and Chris Tyrell tied the knot on January 7th in upstate New York.
- Danny Gokey and Leyicet Peralta married on January 29th.
- Newcomer Jessie James and Denver Broncos star Eric Decker got engaged on April 3rd.
- Stealing Angels’ Tayla Lynn and Jon Cody Finger had a destination wedding in Italy on April 6th.
- Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood and record exec Kelli Cashiola tied the knot outside Nashville on April 14th
- Becky Robertson of Carter's Chord and Jeremiah Scott married on April 21st.
- Jake Owen and Lacey Buchanan tied the knot during a sunrise ceremony in Vero Beach, Florida on May 7th.
- Pistol Annies’ Angaleena Presley and Jordan Powell got hitched in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on May 22nd.
- Wynonna Judd married drummer Cactus Moser in a private ceremony in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee on June 10th.
- Ashley Monroe and White Sox pitcher John Danks were engaged on September 14th.
- Newcomer Thomas Rhett married his childhood friend Lauren Gregory on October 12th. The pair have known each other since grade school, but their romantic relationship began in spring 2011.
- Trailer Choir’s Vinny Vickerson married his longtime girlfriend Lori Diaz on October 13th.
- Curtis Rempel of the new Canadian band High Valley married his longtime girlfriend Myranda in La Crete, Canada on November 24th.
TWEETS OF THE YEAR
Shania Twain arrived riding a black stallion in Las Vegas:
- @ShaniaTwain posted: I would like to thank all of the beautiful horses, the horse wranglers, the local media, the city of Las Vegas, Caesars Palace and my amazing fans for welcoming me to town in such an incredible way!"
- @Miranda_Lambert tweeted, “Up early. Why? Because I'm excited! Today we start record number 2 for @PistolAnnies! Can't wait till y'all hear this stuff!”
- @taylorswift13 posted in October: "They just told me Red sold 1.2 million albums first week. How is this real life?! You are UNREAL. I love you so much. Thanks a million ;)
The 2012 Election:
- @SaraEvansMusic apologized after disapproving of the results of the 2012 election: "I was upset last night, but I'm moving forward today and trusting Romans 8:28. God will and is working out all things for good. I will pray for our country AND our leaders. We are still the greatest Nation on earth!"
- @BradPaisley: “Everybody in the path of that storm please be safe. Wow is that scary looking on radar.”
- @dariusrucker: “My prayers go out to everyone being hit with this awful storm.”
- @bigandrich: “Thinking and praying for those of you on the East Coast. Please stay safe!”
- @FaithHill: “Our family sends all our prayers to those in the path of Sandy … as well as deepest concerns and admiration for our public servants who put themselves in harms way....may God shelter you.”
Space Jump Watch 2012:
- @reba caught Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking space jump. She posted, “Way to go Felix on ur space jump success! Welcome home!”
- @DariusRucker double-checked to make sure he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry: "I have talked to my lawyers and I was not indicted but inducted into the Opry. Lol. Thank all of u for the congrats. Means the world."
- @kelliepickler shaved her head in support of her friend Summer and breast cancer awareness: "Summer and I started a breast cancer awareness twitter page and we'd love for y'all to follow!!! @BaldBeauties”
- @blakeshelton posted: "If I was on the men's synchronized diving team, I would definitely put a potato in my shorts -- the back of my shorts."
- Miranda tweeted, "This time last year I was getting ready to walk down the aisle. Today I get to be at home with my husband and reflect on this crazy year."
- Later, Neal McCoy tweeted, "Today in history: one year ago, my band and I were rocking the Shelton wedding. Can you say career highlight? Happy anniversary y'all!"
- Wife @Miranda_Lambert tweeted a photo of her good cheerleading form and said, "Ahhh! Team Blake did it," after his contestant Jermaine Paul won The Voice.
- Rascal Flatts' Joe Don Rooney posted, "Dick Clark will be missed dearly! The effect he had on American music and Amiercan culture will be felt forever. Rascal Flatts thanks Mr. Clark."
- Blake Shelton tweeted, "So proud I had the chance to shake hands with Dick Clark in my lifetime. Great man."
- Jerrod Niemann tweeted, "Ahhh, gonna miss Dick Clark. What an icon."
- Thompson Square's Shawna Thompson added, "Thanks Dick Clark for all the wonderful memories from my childhood watching American Bandstand!"
- Jerrod Niemann's bus, which was involved in an explosion in March, joined Twitter. It shared post-explosion, "Taking a break from the road for a while. I'm a little burnt out."
- Rascal Flatts worked up a classic rock hit for the Changed tour. @JoeDonRooney tweeted: "In the studio killing a sweet version of 'We're An American Band' with our summer touring mates Little Big Town, Eli Young Band and Eden's Edge."
- He tweeted, "So honored to have shared the stage of the Grammys with The Band Perry and the great Glen Campbell. Now off to drink my face completely off of my skull."
- After the shoot, she tweeted, "It was an emotional day. Trey Fanjoy -- amazing director. Her pain and mine together make this video so passionate. God bless our lost loved ones."
NASHVILLE: ABC Drama Throws the Spotlight on Music City
Music City is the backdrop for ABC's new hit drama Nashville, starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere. The show revolves around a veteran performer (Britton) who's trying to stay relevant and an ingenue (Panettiere) who wants to bring her down.
Connie tells Redbook, “We have an opportunity to show a woman who is self-made and successful and really trying to have it all, and the complexities and difficulties of it… We have the opportunity to show the sexiness and gorgeousness of a woman with experience and wisdom.”
All the actors perform original songs on the show, many written by some of Music Row's most prestigious songwriters.
GARTH BROOKS: Ends Vegas Run
After three years, Garth Brooks ended his Las Vegas run at the Wynn Encore Theater -- two years earlier than originally planned.
Garth said, "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Wynn... As for Steve Wynn, he is one of the smartest guys I have ever had the pleasure of talking to or listening to. He does everything top notch and is the easiest and best boss I have ever worked for … I just love him!" The feeling was mutual for Wynn, who said, "I have always thought of Garth Brooks as a brother, and this will always be a home for him... He is, to me, the rarest of all combinations: incredibly gifted and a man of great character."
Garth kept his promise to his kids that he wouldn't miss any of their functions thanks to a private jet -- a gift from Wynn that flew him to the shows and enabled him to get back home anytime he needed to.
LITTLE BIG TOWN: Motorboat to the Top With Career Firsts
Little Big Town experienced a lot of career firsts in 2012 propelled by their infectious summer smash “Pontoon,” which was the band’s first number-one hit. Their fifth studio album, Tornado, topped the country albums chart for five consecutive weeks, and they nabbed their first CMA trophies for Vocal Group of the Year and Single of the Year. Their current single is the title track, which is out now, and they launch the Tornado Tour January 31st in Murray, Kentucky.
BLAKE & MIRANDA: Make History With CMA Three-Peat
Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton made history by winning the Female and Male Vocalist of the Year awards for a third consecutive year at the 2012 CMAs in November. They also shared Song of the Year trophies for “Over You.” Although three married couples in the past have been nominated for Song of the Year, Blake and Miranda were the first win.
Here's a rundown of 2012's major country tours:
- Brad Paisley performed to over a million fans on his Virtual Reality tour, which included guests Kristen Kelly, Jana Kramer, Love and Theft, Scotty McCreery, Easton Corbin and The Band Perry.
- Dierks Bentley staged the Country and Cold Cans tour, which included a sold-out gig at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Dierks’s bus Old Goldie also logged its millionth mile on the road traveling “Home” to the U.S. after a string of Canadian dates. Special guests included Will Hoge, Eli Young Band and Cadillac Black.
- Eric Church experienced 25 sell-outs on his first headlining arena tour, titled Blood, Sweat and Beers, which included openers Brantley Gilbert, Kip Moore and Justin Moore. Eric’s two-night stand at Chattanooga’s Tivoli Theatre was recorded for a live album, which will be released in 2013. He was also the only country artist on the bill of Metallica’s Orion Music Festival over the summer.
- Miranda Lambert headlined the On Fire tour with special guests Jerrod Niemann and Chris Young.
- Carrie Underwood just added a string of 2013 U.K. dates to the Blown Away tour, which she launched in September with Hunter Hayes.
- Jason Aldean closed the two-year My Kinda Party tour in October with his annual Concert for the Cure benefit in Dallas. Along the way, Jason experienced record-breaking sell-outs in 18 cities, including Columbus, Ohio, where he staged his first sold-out stadium gig at Crew Stadium. His 2013 Night Train shows at Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Athens, Georgia’s Sanford Stadium are already sold-out.
- Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw staged the 23-date Brothers of the Sun tour, which closed with record-breaking numbers. The 111,209 tickets sold for the closing dates at Foxboro, Massachusetts’s Gillette Stadium made it the biggest country event in New England history. Jake Owen and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals were the special guests. Tim also gave away a mortgage-free home to a deserving military family at each tour stop.
- Rascal Flatts staged an all-band tour with Edens Edge, Eli Young Band and Little Big Town. The groups even recorded a version of Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an American Band" for the trek, which continues in 2013 with The Band Perry.
- Sugarland left their set list up to the fans on the In the Hands of the Fans tour. The duo chose their songs on the fly each night with requests from the audience via Twitter, hand-made signs and online polls.
TAYLOR SWIFT: Red Makes History:
Taylor Swift made album sales history with her new album Red, which scored the highest sales week in more than a decade. According to SoundScan figures, the 16-track collection moved 1.208 million copies its first week out, which was best sales week since Eminem’s The Eminem Show sold 1.3 million units in 2002.
Taylor now has two of the three biggest one-week sales totals for any country album in the SoundScan era. Garth Brooks’s Double Live sold 1.08 million in 1998, and Speak Now sold more than 1.04 million in 2010.
As of the December 5th, Red has topped the Billboard Country Albums chart for six consecutive weeks.
GEORGE STRAIT: Announces Final Tour:
George Strait announced in September that he'll go on the road one last time. The two-year Cowboy Rides Away tour kicks off on January 18th in Lubbock, Texas with Martina McBride opening dates for 2013.
George says, “This is going to be a very special, emotional tour for me. Everywhere we’re going holds fond memories, and I’m looking forward to paying my respects.”
George isn't hanging up the mic, though -- he'll continue to record and play select dates.
TOP ALBUMS OF 2012
There's no question that Taylor Swift's Red is the biggest album of 2012, but there were plenty of other noteworthy releases this year.
Tim McGraw was finally able to release his Emotional Traffic album, which had been held up due to legal issues with his former record label. Lionel Richie gathered some of his country friends to re-record some of his biggest hits as duets for Tuskegee -- one one of the most acclaimed collections of the year. And after 13 years together, Little Big Town ditched their bridesmaid status by releasing Tornado -- the album that spawned the biggest hit of the summer, "Pontoon."
Here's a list of 2012's biggest albums:
- Tim McGraw - Emotional Traffic
- Dierks Bentley - Home
- Lionel Richie - Tuskeegee
- Rascal Flatts - Changed
- Carrie Underwood - Blown Away
- Kenny Chesney - Welcome to the Fishbowl
- Zac Brown Band - Uncaged
- Little Big Town - Tornado
- Jason Aldean - Night Train
- Taylor Swift - Red
- Toby Keith - Hope on the Rocks
BLAKE, REBA, TAYLOR: Country Stars Take on TV, Movies and Broadway:
Some of country music's biggest stars proved their versatility by dabbling in other areas of the entertainment business in 2012.
- Blake Shelton continues to mentor future stars on NBC's The Voice.
- Keith Urban took on the same role in Australia's version of the show. Keith enjoyed working with up-and-coming artists so much that he took over one of the vacant judging positions on the next season of American Idol, which premieres in January.
- Reba McEntire has a flair for comedy, and she's showing it off on her new sitcom, Malibu Country, which also stars Lily Tomlin.
- Billy Ray Cyrus has taken his acting chops to Broadway for a limited engagement as Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago.
- Miranda Lambert and the other Pistol Annies made an appearance on the reality show "Say Yes to the Dress."
- Taylor Swift voiced Audrey in the animated film Dr. Seuss's The Lorax.
KITTY, DOC, EARL, JOE: In Memoriam:
The country music community lost iconic hit-makers Joe South, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs and the Queen of Country Music Kitty Wells this year.
A Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer, Joe passed on September 5th at his Buford, Georgia home. He was 72. He's best known for penning the Grammy-winning hits "Games People Play" and "Rose Garden." He can also be heard on Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools," Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album and Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence."
Doc passed in May at age 89. He'd recently had abdominal surgery. Doc recorded more than 60 albums and participated in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's 1972 album Will the Circle Be Unbroken. In 2004, the Recording Academy awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Banjo-picking legend Earl died of natural causes at age 88 in March. Famous for his three-finger picking style, Earl joined Bill Monroe as a member of the Blue Grass Boys in 1945. In 1948, Earl formed the Foggy Mountain Boys with Lester Flatt. The group later became Flatt and Scruggs.
The true Queen of Country Music, Kitty passed at her Nashville home in July. She was 92. Kitty became the first female singer to top the country charts with "It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976 and was its oldest living member.