HARDY Says Eric Church’s “Homeboy” Ignited His Passion For Rock-Infused Country Music: “Sent A Chill Up My Spine”

“It was a very good marriage between rock ‘n’ roll and country, and I had never heard it represented like that,” HARDY said of Church’s song, “Homeboy.”

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Melinda Lorge

Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Music Mayhem, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.

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Posted on September 26, 2023

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HARDY, Eric Church; Photos by Andrew Wendowski

HARDY grew up in the country in a small town in Mississippi, but he wasn’t necessarily drawn to the country genre early on. The 32-year-old award-winning singer/songwriter spent his youth being partial to new metal and rock music. And even now, that musical taste has made its way into his material with the release of his half country half rock album, the mockingbird & THE CROW. Of course, these days, there’s no doubt that HARDY embraces country music just as much as he does rock, but that didn’t come without a bit of inspiration. HARDY says he began delving into country music as a teenager after hearing Eric Church for the first time. 

HARDY Credit Eric Church For His Style Of Music

“As far as starting to learn about country music and love country music, it probably started when I was 17 or 18 years old,” HARDY said while appearing on a recent episode of Power Hour. “Eric Church put out a record called Chief, which was obviously one of his biggest records.”

HARDY then explained that one song on the record caught his ear as he was listening in while driving and making his way to school.

“He had a song on that record called ‘Homeboy.’ I was driving to class one day, and I heard that song on the radio for the first time,” HARDY shared. “It just sent a chill up my spine because it was a very good marriage between rock ‘n’ roll and country, and I had never heard it represented like that. I said, ‘Ok, if that is country music right now — today, then I love country music, and I can do that. I want to do that. So that was like this really big cornerstone moment for me.”

Luke Combs Also Credits Eric Church For Igniting His Musical Passion

Church happens to be a popular artist among other country superstars. As a matter of fact HARDY isn’t the only person who has looked to The Chief for inspiration. Both Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen have credited Church as being the guy who kick-started their passion for music. 

During an episode of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s USA Network Television series, Straight Up Steve Austin, Combs talked about his lack of interest in the country genre before he was introduced to Church’s music. 

“I think the reason myself and my parents stopped listening to country music at that time, it wasn’t at that moment in time as relatable. A lot of guys got heavy into the beach. It was getting more poppy sounding at that time,” Combs said. “And not to say I’m Merle Haggard, because I’m not. I’m not claiming to be that either, but that was the big shift.”

Luke Combs, Photo by Andrew Wendowski; Morgan Wallen, Photo Courtesy of Matthew Paskert
Luke Combs, Photo by Andrew Wendowski; Morgan Wallen, Photo Courtesy of Matthew Paskert

“When I got to Appalachian State, a guy that lived on my floor brought in an Eric Church CD and said, ‘Hey. This guy went to college here, you should check him out,’” he continued. “Once I heard Eric, I was like, ‘This is something I can relate to, and if he can do that and he’s from here, and I’m from here, I can do that.’ And that’s kind of where the fire caught spark for lack of a better term.”

Morgan Wallen Sees Eric Church As a musical Hero

As for Wallen, he caught the musical bug after attending one of Church’s earlier shows at Thompson Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn. Ever since that day, he has dubbed Church his musical hero. 

“I just fell in love with everything that he did. Once I saw him in concert that kind of ignited a real fire in me that maybe I could be like that one day,” Wallen told ET Canada

Morgan Wallen, Eric Church; Photo Courtesy of Getty Images for ACM
Morgan Wallen, Eric Church; Photo Courtesy of Getty Images for ACM

Of course, all three artists – HARDY, Wallen, and Combs – have gotten to a point where they have found their own sound outside of their love of Church’s music. And they’ve all had plenty of success with their albums as each of them released an album in 2023 ahead of massive tours. 

HARDY, who has been providing support on Wallen’s extensive One Night At A Time tour, is also gearing up to hit the road for the second leg of his 2023 The Mockingbird & the Crow Tour, which serves as his first-ever headlining trek. The run, which features guests Lainey Wilson and Dylan Marlowe, kicks off on Aug. 31 in Knoxville, Tenn., and goes until Dec. 9, with its final stop in Biloxi, Miss. 

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Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Music Mayhem, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.

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