In June, Chris Stapleton checked off a bucket-list item: The country superstar performed alongside the Eagles during their tour date in Arlington, Texas. Backstage at the 2018 CMA Music Festival, Stapleton told The Boot and other media outlets that appearing on the bill was a milestone achievement, with a group he's loved for decades.

"One of the greatest shows I ever went to in my life was the Eagles' Hell Freezes Over Tour in 1995," Stapleton recalls. "I saved all of my money and bought tickets for my brother and me, and we drove the four hours from my hometown to go and watch that show. They played for four hours; they played all the Eagles hits, and then they took turns singing their solo stuff, with the rest of the Eagles as a backup band. I don't think you could ask for much more out of a show. It was flawless. Every piece of it was flawless."

Speaking before the performance took place, Stapleton said he was excited about the lineup, despite the absence of one key member: "We lost Glenn Frey, and I'm real sad about that," he continues. "I never got to meet him. But Vince Gill is a member of the band now, and I know Vince pretty well, so I'm excited to go and play with all of them."

On his own tour and in his performances, Stapleton makes it a point to surround himself with musical friends and heroes. During the 2018 iteration of Marty Stuart's Late Night Jam at the Ryman Auditorium during CMA Fest, Stapleton appeared to play his own set and to join Stuart for a collaboration. "Marty is a dear friend and a hero," Stapleton comments. "I love him so much, but he's also somebody that I have the deepest amount of respect you can possibly have for anybody as a musician and as a person."

Stuart has also joined Stapleton's tour in the past. "Brent [Cobb] did all of last year with us, and Marty did select dates with us," Stapleton explains. "We had a lot of fun with that configuration. It was just so fun to watch those guys every night. They do different things than what we might do in our show, but they all complement each other so well."

Stapleton is no stranger to productive collaborations with musicians who bring different -- but complementary -- skill sets to the table. The country star also has an extensive history of collaborating with pop icon Justin Timberlake, and says that despite appearances, the pair actually share a similar musical background. "It looks like the odd couple to most people, but we have a lot of the same musical influences," Stapleton says. "Old R&B and soul music and things like that. We just have fun hanging out."

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