Lonestar is an American country music group consisting of Cody Collins (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Michael Britt (lead guitar, background vocals), Keech Rainwater (drums) and Dean Sams (keyboards, melodica, background vocals). Collins, who had formerly been in another country group called McAlyster, replaced former lead vocalist Richie McDonald, who left in November 2007 for a solo career. John Rich was also the group's bass guitarist and second lead vocalist until 1998, when he was fired from the group. He left for a solo career, before joining Big Kenny in the duo Big & Rich in 2003. Since Rich's departure, Lonestar has not had an official bass guitarist.
Lonestar made its debut on the Billboard country music charts in 1995 with the Top 10 single "Tequila Talkin'". Since then, they have amassed a total of twenty-seven singles on the country charts, with nine of those singles reaching Number One. Their biggest hit was 1999's "Amazed", a crossover hit that reached Number One on both the country charts and the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first single to do so since Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's "Islands in the Stream" in 1983. The group has also recorded eight studio albums and a Greatest Hits compilation. Three of their albums have been certified gold, while three more have been certified platinum or higher.
This section requires expansion with:
Critical reception, musical stylings, more info on each album.
Lonestar began in 1992 as a band named Texassee. This name was derived from the fact that all five members were natives of Texas, and met in Nashville, Tennessee's Opryland USA theme park. The original lineup consisted of lead singer/rhythm guitarist Richie McDonald (Lubbock), lead guitarist Michael Britt (Fort Worth), drummer Keech Rainwater (Plano), keyboardist Dean Sams (Garland), and bass guitarist/co-lead vocalist John Rich (Amarillo). Before Lonestar's foundation, Rainwater played drums in another country band called Canyon, which charted in the country top 40 with "Hot Nights" in 1989. By 1992, Texassee changed its name to Lonestar. The band first played at a concert in Nashville in 1993 and signed to BNA Records by 1995.
Their first single for BNA Records, "Tequila Talkin'", reached a peak of #8 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. It was followed by the release of their eponymous debut album. Certified for gold sales by the RIAA, the album also produced the band's first Number One single in "No News", as well as the #8 "Runnin' Away with My Heart", #18 "Heartbroke Every Day", and the #45 "When Cowboys Didn't Dance". In 1996, Richie McDonald also sang background vocals on Mindy McCready's Top 20 single "Maybe He'll Notice Her Now", for which he received chart credit. This song and "Heartbroke Every Day" (the only single on which John Rich sang lead) overlapped on the charts.
In 1997, the band released its second album, Crazy Nights. Two of the singles from this album ? "Say When" and "Come Cryin' to Me", the latter of which was their second Number One ? were co-written by Rich, while the 1998 single "Everything's Changed" was co-written by McDonald. Shortly after the release of "Everything's Changed", Rich was fired from the band and went to pursue a solo career on BNA, which would later prove unsuccessful. By the early 2000s, he paired up with Big Kenny (who had also been an unsuccessful solo singer) to form the duo Big & Rich.
Lonely Grill, the first album not to include Rich, was released in 1999. Its first single, "Saturday Night", failed to reach Top 40. However, it was soon followed by the ballad "Amazed", which became the group's biggest crossover hit. Having spent eight weeks at Number One on the country charts, "Amazed" would later reach Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 as well, making Lonestar the first country act to top both the Hot Country Songs and Hot 100 charts since 1983, when Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton accomplished the same feat with "Islands in the Stream". All of the other singles from Lonely Grill ("Smile", "What About Now", and "Tell Her") reached Number One as well, and the album was certified 2? Multi-Platinum by the RIAA. Lonely Grill was followed in 2000 by a Christmas album called This Christmas Time
I'm Already There
I'm Already There was the title of Lonestar's fourth studio album. Released in 2001, this album continued in a more country pop oriented direction. The lead-off single (which was the title track) spent six weeks at Number One, followed by "With Me" at #10, "Not a Day Goes By" at #3, and the Mark McGuinn-penned "Unusually Unusual" at #12. I'm Already There was also certified platinum.
From There To Here: Greatest Hits
2003 saw the release of a greatest hits compilation entitled From There to Here: Greatest Hits. This album reprised the greatest hits from their first four studio albums, in addition to producing two new singles in the Number One "My Front Porch Looking In" and a #8-peaking cover of Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis".
Let's Be Us Again
Let's Be Us Again was released in 2004. This album produced three singles in its title track (#4 on the country charts), as well as their final Number One in "Mr. Mom". The third single, "Class Reunion (That Used to Be Us)", peaked at #16, however, and Let's Be Us Again did not sell as well as I'm Already There.
Coming Home followed a year later. Only two singles were released from this album: "You're Like Comin' Home" (#8 on the country charts) and "I'll Die Tryin'", both of which were previously recorded by the Canadian country band Emerson Drive on their 2004 album What If?. "I'll Die Tryin'" also became the group's first single since 1999's "Saturday Night" to miss the Top 40.
Lonestar in 2005, with original lead vocalist Richie McDonald
Mountains, their final album for BNA, sold even more poorly than Coming Home did, and like Coming Home, it only produced two singles, including its #10 title track (co-written by Larry Boone) and the #51 "Nothing to Prove". In March 2007, Lonestar was dropped from BNA's roster, due to their declining sales. Guitarist Michael Britt attributes the group's downfall in the mid-2000s to the label's choices in singles, saying in an interview with CMT, "I think we painted ourselves into a corner? They started putting out a bunch of family-type songs. I think that really pigeonholed us. The majority of the band didn't really want to continue doing that same thing. But that's what kept getting put out."
Departure of Richie McDonald
Lead singer Richie McDonald also announced that he would be leaving the group at the end of 2007 in search of a solo career. Cody Collins, who formerly recorded on MCA Nashville Records in the band McAlyster, was confirmed as his replacement. Lonestar's first compilation with Collins as lead singer was a Christmas music compilation titled My Christmas List, available exclusively at the restaurant and gift shop chain Cracker Barrel. Since his departure from Lonestar, McDonald has charted two solo singles of his own: "How Do I Just Stop" and "Six-Foot Teddy Bear", both of which reached #51 on the country charts. The latter was released on Stroudavarious Records.
The group's first single to feature Collins on lead vocals was "Let Me Love You", which was released in early 2008 on the Co5 label. The song only managed to chart to #50 on the country music charts. It is the first single from their upcoming album The Future.
Michael Britt - lead guitar, background vocals (1992-present)
Cody Collins - lead vocals (2008-present)
Keech Rainwater - drums, percussion (1992-present)
Dean Sams - keyboards, harmonica, melodica, background vocals (1992-present)
Richie McDonald - lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano, keyboards (1992-2008)
John Rich - bass guitar, lead and background vocals (1992-1998)
Kevin Von Der Hofen - bass guitar, vocals
Rob Tyler - fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar
Mark Chamberlain - Tour Manager
Alex Krompic - Lighting Director
Jerry Gamble - Stage Manager
Scott Fowler - Guitar Tech