Roots and Boots Tour features Joe Diffie, Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw

Mar 6 | Posted by: Bombplates

Good friends love to hang out together, but long hours on the job will often diminish the quality time one relishes with their closest associates. Those precious moments seem to get even shorter as the years pass.

Three stars who dominated the country music world in the 1990s have found a way to resolve the problem. They combined forces to create the popular Roots & Boots Tour. Now, Joe Diffie, Aaron Tippin and Sammy Kershaw are spending time together like teenage brothers.

The triple-threat lineup has 16 combined gold and platinum albums to their credit, plus 42 top 10 records and 14 chart topping singles, including “Pickup Man” for Diffie, “There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With The Radio” for Tippin and Kershaw’s classic “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful.”

The Roots & Boots Tour will be making a stop at the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center in Paducah at 7:30 p.m. March 14.

Success for the tour culminated with the release of “All in the Same Boat” album last year, a collaboration among the artists that is a mix of old and new music, plus the “Old Friends” novelty tune and a music video for the title track.

Diffie was the first of the trio on the charts. He signed with Epic Records in 1990 and debuted in August of the same year with “Home,” a tune that raced to the No. 1 position. He has also reached the top of the charts with “If the Devil Danced (in Empty Pockets),” “Third Rock from the Sun,” “Pick Up Man” and “Bigger Than the Beatles.”

The 55-year-old Oklahoma native worked in the Texas oil fields before making a serious commitment to music. He started singing gospel in the early 1980s, then switched to bluegrass. He had a recording studio in his own home.
In 1987, he migrated to Nashville and found a job working for the Gibson Guitar Corp. At the same time, he was gaining a powerful reputation as a songwriter, with tunes recorded by Ricky Van Shelton, Alabama and Billy Dean.

Epic Records signed Diffie to a contract in 1989 but put him on hold for a year. During that hiatus, Diffie wrote and sang background on the Holly Dunn smash “There Goes My Heart Again.”

Maybe the bluest-collar working man in country music today, Tippin is a licensed commercial pilot and a certified aircraft mechanic. His 500-acre farm has an hangar and runway. It is also home to his winemaking operation. The property is littered with heavy equipment, which he enjoys taking apart and putting back together.

Tippin is also an award-winning bodybuilder and is known as the “Hillbilly Hercules.”

Born in Florida and raised in South Carolina, the 55-year-old Tippin has a hit list that includes “Kiss This,” “That’s As Close As I’ll Get To Loving You” and “Working Man’s Ph.D.” He broke onto the scene in 1990, at the start of the Gulf War, with patriotic anthem “You’ve Got To Stand for Something” and rallied Americans after 9/11 with “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Flies.”

At 20, Tippin started working as a pilot. At the same time, he was playing music in clubs throughout South Carolina. He competed on "You Can Be a Star" talent search on The Nashville Network in 1986 and moved to Music City in 1987.

It was his skills as a songwriter that helped earn his big break. As a staff writer for legendary Acuff-Rose Publishing, he inked tunes for Mark Collie, David Ball and Charley Pride.

The senior member of this tour's trio, the 56-year old Kershaw knew life in the fast lane at an early age. His father died when he was only 11. He had to work a variety of day jobs to support his family. He added financial support by playing music in the rowdy Southern Louisiana roadhouses at night.

Barely in his teens, he had opened shows for country music icons George Jones, Merle Haggard and Ray Price. The pressure of growing up too fast led to more than a decade of substance abuse. In 1988, he kicked the habit and quit music, going to work at Wal-Mart.

As fate would have it, while he was out of the business, one of his demo tapes found its way to Mercury Records, which signed him to a contract in 1991. He started paying immediate dividends with debut hit single “Cadillac Style.” His other hits have included “Love of My Life,” “Yard Sale,” “Queen of My Double Wide Trailer” and a re-make of “Third Rate Romance.”

Kershaw was married to singer Lorrie Morgan from 2001 to 2007.

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