The first band ever to have a debut single become #1 on the Country charts, Diamond Rio, are coming to Mill Town Music Hall. "'Meet in the Middle' was our first single and we were fortunate to have a hit right out of the box," tenor vocalist and mandolin player, Gene Johnson, said.
The group is known for their mellifluous vocals and distinct melodic compositions. The original group included the Country artist, Ty Herndon, who with other entertainers were known as The Grizzly River Boys and Tennessee River Boys when they performed at the Opryland USA theme park in Nashville in the 1980's. Herndon became a solo artist in the mid-1990's, and the band morphed into Diamond Rio with its current members in 1989.
Diamond Rio is recognized for their hits like "How Your Love Makes Me Feel," "In a Week or Two," "One More Day," "You're Gone," and others. Johnson was recently named as Honorary Chairman for Tennessee Craft Week. "I was always handy as a wood worker, and when we are not touring, I enjoy my cabinet making projects," said Johnson. The group known for playing every note on every album is celebrating its 25th Anniversary as Diamond Rio with the release of their first ever live LP which includes stories and interviews on a DVD of the band's history, but not concert footage.
In 1990, the band was forced to take a sabbatical for a few months. "Three of us, almost at the same time, were either injured or had a health situation, and we could not schedule any concert dates," Johnson said. "I cut my thumb in half, which still bothers me today when I am playing the mandolin. Dan Truman (keyboards) was hurt in a ski boat incident, and Jimmy Olander (lead guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo) had a scare with a mass in his chest," added Johnson. Their record company at the time, Arista Records, told the band not to go anywhere at all, and not to even leave their homes. Johnson has had to change the way he plays the mandolin.
In 2009, Diamond Rio released their autobiography, Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio. They are celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a brand new album, "I Made It," which features eleven new tunes. They have recorded nine studio albums, one Christmas LP, and one live album. They have also released three greatest hits collections. Their many honors include three platinum albums, and a Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album. The Country Music Association also rewarded the band with four Group of the Year citations, and the Academy of Country Music gave Diamond Rio two Top Vocal awards.
In 1998, Diamond Rio became the first group in fourteen years to be installed in the Grand Ole Opry, which is amazing considering many bands have to wait decades before being accepted by the Opry. The band is very involved in community events for non-profit organizations. In 2013, they accepted the AutoZone Liberty Bowl's Outstanding Achievement Award for outstanding accomplishments in the field of music/entertainment and community service. That year, they had the distinction of performing at half-time in the Liberty Bowl. The group always is among the first artists to accept an invitation to play at benefit concerts.
Written by Geoff Parker