Eric Church Was Once Fired by Rascal Flatts: Here’s Why

by Jim Casey

Eric Church was kicked off of Rascal Flatts’ Me & My Gang Tour in 2006, but it turned out to be a win-win-win for everyone involved.

It’s hard to believe that Eric Church, the 2020 CMA Entertainer of the Year, was opening for Rascal Flatts on their Me & My Gang Tour in 2006. While both Church and Flatts ship singles to country radio, the musical similarities end there. Yeah, they are both in the country’s music solar system, but if Eric Church is Mercury, Rascal Flatts is Pluto (it’s still a planet to me).

Nonetheless, in 2006, the powers that be decided Eric should open for Flatts on their Me & My Gang Tour. Keep in mind, Flatts was a musical juggernaut in 2006. The trio—comprised of Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney—had already scored a string of No. 1 hits, including “Mayberry,” “Bless This Broken Road,” “Fast Cars and Freedom,” and more. Rascal Flatts has sold more than 18.5 million units according to the RIAA. That’s Top 25 all-time in the country genre. They don’t need a defense, here.

Eric Versus the Gang

In 2005 and 2006, the trio hit the road in support of their fourth album, Me & My Gang. And guess who opened a number of dates for them? Blake Shelton. On the final tour leg in fall/winter 2016, Eric was tapped as an opener to support his 2006 debut album, Sinners Like Me, which dropped in July.

But Eric decided not to play nice. He clashed over some of the innocuous restrictions an opener usually abides by, including stage space, length of setlist, and more. After a number of attempts to corral Eric, the situation came to a head on October 14, 2006, at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Eric decided to pull a “Johnny Paycheck,” also known as a “Take This Job and Shove It.” Eric deliberately exceeded his allotted stage time, a costly move with NYC’s labor fees. Rascal Flatts responded with a “Ray Charles,” also known as a “Hit the Road Jack.

But Eric didn’t go quietly into the night. Eric’s UMG Nashville label funded his own tour that he called Me & Myself. Eric played local clubs at the remaining Rascal stops.

Rascall Flatts replaced Eric on their tour with a little-known 16-year-old named Taylor Swift, who was never heard from again. Actually, she became the biggest star on Earth.

So, you see, it all worked out. In the country music solar system, Eric Church, Rascal Flatts, and Taylor Swift all got a planet. It’s a win-win-win.