I Love Life: Diamond Rio Turned Their Musical Dream into Reality
I will never forget the first time I saw an aspiring country singer in Nashville. The Tennessee River Boys were on stage performing bluegrass music at the Opryland Theme Park. . The lead singer was Marty Roe. Marty, a few years later, became the lead singer of Diamond Rio---a band that turned into one of country music’s hottest bands!
Prior to forming Diamond Rio, Marty was a transplant from Ohio who made a good living as a musician.
“Sure it was a dream in the back of my mind thinking I could make a decent living as a musician. I thought about going to college when I first came to town. Plan B was to find a gig where I could make some money. Two years after I came to Nashville, I actually made money singing. I felt I had made it! Aside from working at the theme park, I was also performing every night at the Opryland Hotel doing different gigs. Later on, I met up with the Tennessee River Boys. I made good money! I was excited. My wife had a job. We were doing all right…had a new car, house. I was doing what I love.”
But, Marty Roe wanted more---and that was the beginning of what was to become one of country music’s most successful bands.
“I wanted to make a mark for my own music and so did the guys I was working with. We left our little gig and our income went way down from there. We struggled through several producers and getting rejected here in town. We started developing relationships in the music business. At the time, everybody had to take separate jobs…cutting grass or substitute teaching. I think every musician has probably done it on and off. We also went through member changes---about one a year. But, everything always seemed to work out the best. We did have discussions about breaking up or continue on and look for new members. In ’89, Dana Williams was the last new band to join Diamond Rio. The band got better everytime we would add a member---getting more unique and distinctive.”
Finally, Marty Roe and the other Diamond Rio band members got a recording contract and quickly became a household name in country music radio.
Marty vividly recalls the first time the band heard their music on the radio.
“We were actually going through Indianapolis. There was dead silence when “Meet in the Middle” was played! It had actually been a year since we cut the song before we released it as a single. But, when it came on the radio, we were on cloud nine! But, we were even more shocked when the guys saw the first album being sold in a music store. At the time, we were in Jacksonville, Florida performing at an outdoor show next to a mall. After dinner, I was walking around the music store and found our first album. Everybody in the band had to go and look at the record in the shelf. After the show, the band went back to the music store and the records were gone! We sold 12! No doubt about it! We were on our way!”
Since then became one of country music’s hottest bands! Diamond Rio has sold over 10 million albums earning three platinum and five gold records and won the Country Music Association’s Vocal Group of the Year award four times as well as netting two Academy of Country Music Awards in the top Vocal Group of the Year category and 13 Grammy nominations. When they debuted in 1991 with “Meet in the Middle,” Diamond Rio became the first group in the history of country music to have a debut single reach Number One. They continued to place 32 more singles on the Billboard chart.