Rascal Flatts' debut single, "Prayin' for Daylight," from their eponymous freshman album, became a Top 5 hit. The song paved the way for a long list of radio-friendly singles, including "Mayberry," "Fast Cars and Freedom," "Take Me There" and their recent No. 1 single "Yours If You Want It."

But while the trio, made up of Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney, has spent almost 20 years as mainstays on country music radio, their beginnings weren't nearly as promising. In fact, the first time they heard themselves on the radio, based on listener reaction, they thought their days of stardom were over before they even began.

Below, DeMarcus recalls the terrifying moment that Rascal Flatts heard themselves on the radio for the first time.

[We were] on the bus at the [Nashville] airport, and they were doing a "Shine the Lights on It" or "Turn the Lights Out," at about 9 at night. "Prayin’ for Daylight" was one [of the options].

The first call was like, "I love it. It’s different. I say 'Shine the Light On.'" And then the second caller was a dude, and we were all huddled around the radio in the front of the bus. He said, "I’ll tell you what. I don’t like that at all. You need to 'Turn the Lights Out.' It’s awful."

The next two calls were bad calls. And then after that, there were about 10 in the row that were good calls. But for the first four calls, we were going, "Oh no! Oh no! Take the bus back and let’s get our jobs back at Piggly Wiggly, 'cause this is awful."

See the Rascal Flatts Guys + More Country Stars Then and Now

How Well Do You REALLY Know Rascal Flatts?

More From TheBoot