Updated: Apr 24
It was early 2005 when I was introduced to Rich O'Toole by his manager, Ricky Brown, during an informal introduction to get started on what would become his first studio album: Seventeen. Rich and I hit it off instantly and very quickly started breaking an awful lot of rules that "Texas Country" held dear at the time. More than a few times during those sessions we asked each other "Are we even allowed to do that?" and then busted up laughing and did it anyway. When completed, Texas Music Times called that first effort "The best album of 2006 nobody told you about," which in hindsight makes perfect sense. It was no secret that everyone from radio station managers to promoters were scratching heads saying, "what the F*CK are those guys thinking?" That little record that was "too rock for radio" and "too profane for mainstream" ended up producing four Top 10 radio singles, an unheard of feat for a new artist in the genre. The thing is, Rich and I both realized early on that we just wanted to do our thing, our way, and try to be our best at it. So he's touring the state jumping on tables and bars mid-show while I'm in the studio pushing the music to 11. We never had any doubt people would love it, and luckily we ended up being right.
Beyond our time in the studio, we became really great friends. We'd weigh in on life's big decisions, and show each other work we were proud of. I couldn't wait for my kids to meet him when they were born, and my wife adores him. I won't bore you with a thousand hilarious stories from shenanigans in far away cities, or brag to everyone that together we've made 18 top ten hits plus a handful of #1's. It's all been a blur, honestly. I will tell you though, one of the darkest moments was when I got the phone call saying he had been in a horrific car accident that broke his neck, and he was being rushed to the hospital. Hearing his voice on the other end of the phone, as groggy was it was, made me tear up....he even managed to make me crack a smile by the end of the call. One of the biggest highlights was 18 months later, when Rich called and said "I got booked to play at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and I don't want you miss it, so I bought your flight and booked your hotel....check your email." That trip was an adventure and a half, ask me about it sometime!
This post isn't about a victory lap, though...well, not completely. Rich's brand new album, New York is now available for preorder. You can click on the cover image on the right find out more. It's our best effort yet—after all, it's taken us 15 years to get here. We poured everything we had into making it, and a few of the tunes have already charted on radio! As excited as I am about this new record, there's even bigger news for the future this week that I had to share.
Rich has just inked a new deal with industry heavyweight Average Joes Entertainment to help run his own label imprint, Buffalo Roam Records. He can find and develop new talent in Texas and Nashville, all while having a strong team that knows how to launch artists and market hit songs. I can't be more excited about what comes next.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I love Rich like a kid brother and am so proud of all the hard work and success he's achieved...it's been a really long road. Please check out the new record and show your friends..."Back On My Bullshit Again" is a real barn-burner. Stay tuned, as well......big things are coming.