Did You Know Joe Don Rooney and Keifer Thompson Performed Together as Teenagers?
Both artists hail from Oklahoma: Thompson grew up in Miami, Okla., while Rooney hails from Pitcher, Okla. The two towns are just 20 minutes apart, so given that close proximity, it was inevitable that the two talented men would eventually cross paths.
“I’ve known him for years, since high school,” Thompson says of Rooney. “Pitcher is a suburb of Miami, and Joe Don played guitar at the Grand Lake Opry in Grove, Okla.”
The Grand Lake Opry is where Thompson had his first public appearance — and also where he first met the future Flatts singer, who was then a guitar player for the Grand Lake Opry. Thompson won a contest and was able to sing there on a Saturday night, making it the biggest crowd he’d ever performed for up to that point.
Many years later, Thompson and his wife Shawna were at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and he noticed a guitar player with a sea green Telecaster.
“I knew that guitar, it belonged to Joe Don Rooney, and I looked closer, and sure enough, it was Joe Don!” Thompson recalls. “He was playing for Chely Wright at the time.”
Soon after, the Flatts formed a trio, and while Thompson and Rooney didn’t connect for years, they eventually crossed paths again and always see one another during the awards show circuit.
“It’s always a nice reunion,” Thompson says. “It’s cool to see what’s happened for him, and he expressed how proud he was for us, and proud for a fellow Oklahoman.”