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Rascal Flatts Comment on Firing Eric Church From Their Tour

Rascal Flatts
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

It’s been eight years since Eric Church was famously fired from the Rascal Flatts Me & My Gang Tour, after he was accused of playing too long each night. Church was replaced by 16-year-old Taylor Swift, and says he was “banished to the wilderness.”

While Church spent the next several years feeling unwelcome in the music industry, the Flatts kept on churning out hit after hit, and headlining some of the most successful tours in the country. Now the three guys — Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus — are finally speaking publicly about why they really fired Church from their tour.

“We asked him four times to stay to the allotted amount of time that he had to play,” DeMarcus recalls to Broadway’s Electric Barnyard. “We sat him down in our dressing room and were like, ‘Look. We’ll put you on early so you can play longer. But please, just be off the stage because we still have to do our show.’”

The guys insist it wasn’t about their egos, but about the amount of money Church’s extra time on stage was costing them every night. After repeated warnings, they say they sat him down before their concert at New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden, and once again reminded him how important it was that he end on time.

“For every minute that you go overtime, especially in New York City, you’re charged thousands of dollars by the minute in labor fees,” DeMarcus explains.

The trio even gave Church more time in his set, adding on an additional 12 minutes in the beginning to ensure he would finish on time. They claim Church showed up 10 minutes late, and stayed on stage 20 minutes over his allotted time.

“It was just a bit disrespectful because when you’re an opening act, we did our best to abide by the rules that the headliner laid out for us,” DeMarcus adds. “And you just do that and there was no goodwill being sent back to us, and it wasn’t worth the trouble, so we said, ‘See ya.’”

While the guys and Church all agree they harbor no ill will towards each other, Church has his own account of the facts that night. He says he realized very early on in the tour that it wasn’t a good fit for him, and deliberately overplayed at Madison Square Garden so he would be kicked off the tour.

Whatever the truth, it was a fortuitous event for Swift, who had just released her eponymous debut album. Church spoke with Swift before she began her run with Flatts, saying, “This is your crowd; they’re going to love you. You’re going to owe me your first gold record.”

Swift kept her word, and gave him her first gold record, along with a note that said, “Thanks for playing too long and too loud on the Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it. Taylor.”

Chances are good, when Rascal Flatts hit the road for their Rewind tour later this year, both their special guest, Sheryl Crow, and their opening act, Gloriana, will start, and end, on time. See all of their upcoming concerts here.

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