After Walker McGuire’s Breakup, Johnny McGuire Looks Ahead to What’s Next
About three months after announcing the breakup of his duo, Walker McGuire, Johnny McGuire was on deck to play one of the biggest gigs of his career. The singer was sitting backstage at Nissan Stadium during CMA Fest 2019, preparing to take the stage alongside Billy Ray Cyrus -- as a solo artist.
"It really felt pretty serendipitous," McGuire tells The Boot and other outlets when asked about the career ups and downs that led up to his stadium gig.
"You know, we met Billy when I was still in Walker McGuire. Then we broke up, and Billy still wanted to sing the song," he continues, speaking of "Chevys and Fords," his newly released collaboration with Cyrus. McGuire co-wrote the song with his former musical partner, Jordan Walker, as well as Rodney Clawson and Ben Hayslip.
Both McGuire and Cyrus' careers changed dramatically between when they confirmed their Nissan Stadium performance for CMA Fest 2019 and when they actually stepped onstage. McGuire was working through the breakup of his duo, while Cyrus was enjoying a place back in the spotlight thanks to his collaboration with Lil Nas X on a remix of the emerging rapper's now-megahit "Old Town Road." Both men are different artists than they were when they signed up to perform together -- and, McGuire says, that's a good thing.
"Going from my band breaking up to playing Nissan Stadium for the first time tonight -- I still feel kinda like I'm dreaming," he admits. "But, yeah, it's just been a total blessing for my life."
Of course, adjusting to life without his musical partner of five years, Walker, took time and practice. "Definitely, as far as your comfort zone, you have to re-learn a little bit," McGuire admits. "Jordan and I would go off of each other a lot, where we learned our, kind of, comedy routine from each other. I learned a lot from Jordan about entertaining, and how to do that stuff."
Fortunately, the breakup was amicable. "When we broke up, he had just gotten married, and he was ready to hang out with his wife for a consistent period of time," McGuire goes on to say. "But he's one of the best writers I've ever met in my life, and he'll be just fine doing that full-time, which is what he wants to do."
That being said, McGuire adds, he'll always be indebted to his former bandmate; after all, they came of age together in the music industry, and "were in the trenches together for five years, and we learned how to perform together and how to write songs the Nashville way," he says. Now, McGuire is glad to see Walker follow his dreams as a full-time songwriter -- and gearing up to follow a few of his own.
"I think we're both really gonna be a lot happier," he concludes.
Remember These Infamous Country Music Breakups?