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209 West Dixie Avenue
Elizabethtown, KY 42701

An Evening With Aaron Tippin

An Evening With Aaron Tippin
Twenty-Five years – a huge career accomplishment,
especially in the music business. Aaron Tippin – who marks
his silver anniversary as a recording artist this year –
admits that he looks at his career longevity with a little bit
of amazement.
“I think about it and go ‘Wow. What am I doing still here?’
I look at the flight that we took off in,” referring to his
fellow newcomers at the time of his career launch. “A lot
of them are gone, it seems. Some quit by choice. Some
ran out from under it, but to be here twenty-five years
doing it, I am the luckiest hillbilly that ever lived.”
Tippin says that nobody was any more surprised that he
got an invitation to join the roster of Nashville
powerhouse RCA back in 1990 than him. In fact, at the
time he inked his deal, he had almost given up hope of
success as a vocalist, concentrating on his budding career
as a songwriter – with cuts from the likes of The Kingsmen,
Mark Collie, and Charley Pride.
“I thought my chances were gone. I came to town when I
was about twenty-five years old. I had been seriously
trying to get a record deal for about three or four years. I
just thought ‘Man, this ain’t gonna happen.’ I really had
settled into songwriting, and my songs started to get
recognized. One of the gals down at RCA – Mary Martin
heard me singing my demos. She said ‘Who is that?’ They
said, ‘That’s that Tippin guy down there who writes for
Acuff / Rose – the muscle guy.’ She said ‘That’s hillbilly.
That’s country. Let me hear what else he’s got. I want to
meet him.”
Aaron recalls that walking into the RCA office to meet with
label head Joe Galante definitely had a magical vibe, as
well it should. “The label was on fire. Clint Black was on
top of the charts, along with the Judds and Keith Whitley.
What a great team to fall into there. I’m so thankful that
Joe took a chance on me. It sure worked out, and I had a
great run there. I remember when he sent me my plastic
Nipper dog and my Varsity Jacket. I couldn’t believe it.”
He also couldn’t believe that his first single, “You’ve Got
To Stand For Something,” hit the Billboard Country
Singles chart – eventually peaking at # 6. The success of
that record also brought him a career opportunity that
completely blew his mind. “When the song started to get
played in Los Angeles, we got a call from Bob Hope’s
daughter Linda. She heard the song, and asked if I’d be
interested in going over and entertaining the troops. It
didn’t take him long to give her an answer. “I said ‘Are
you kidding me? Bob Hope? I never in a zillion years
dreamed I would be on the Bob Hope show.”
And, just like that, Aaron Tippin was off to the races. The
hits continued to pile up - “There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong
With The Radio,” “My Blue Angel,” and “Workin’ Man’s
PhD,” among them. He was building his brand on songs
that touched a nerve with his blue-collar audience – and
that one of a kind vocal style that definitely was Country.
“You either liked it or you hated it. I is what I is,” he says
with a smile. “I think several times during my record
career, we tried to change and follow trends and stuff.
But, it never seemed to work for me. The most success I
had in the business was with songs that I crafted. I’m very
proud of that. I think it makes a fan able to identify with
me easier because these songs are about me – my life,
who I am, and how I was raised. I tell people I get
recognized a whole lot faster in a truck stop than I do in
my tuxedo walking into the back of the Opry. You better
check my credentials when I have a tuxedo on, because it
don’t look right.”
That’s not to say that Tippin was a one-trick pony. His
1995 smash “That’s As Close As I’ll Get To Loving You”
showcased a more dramatic side to his vocal approach,
something that continued into his next label affiliation – as
the flagship artist for Lyric Street Records.
“Everybody saw that with ‘That’s As Close As I’ll Get To
Loving You’ that I could do other things. So, when they
were pitching songs to Aaron Tippin, it was with a lot
broader range. A lot of times, it would be songs that I
particularly couldn’t write. It was a new place for my
career, and to kick things off at a new label – I think it was
a big success,” he recalls of “For You I Will,” his debut
single for the label.
Signing with Lyric Street was like a family reunion for
Tippin, with many people he had worked with before –
such as Greg McCarn, Randy Goodman,Doug Howard, and
Kevin Herring, as well as promotional guru Dale Turner –
who had helped to build the Tippin brand at RCA. “I was
happy to be one of the first people they signed. I enjoyed
my time there as well.”
Another important piece of the Tippin story is his wife –
and business partner Thea. “She is as much Aaron Tippin
as I am,” he says. “She’s only six months behind me in my
record deal. I signed with RCA, and then six months later,
I signed with Narvel Blackstock and Trey Turner. She was
Trey’s assistant, so she started working the Aaron Tippin
career six months after it started. She’s got as much stake
in this game as I do. She saw me at my lowest days, stood
right there and stayed – even when things weren’t great,
and I wasn’t having hit records. She listened to me whine
all through it all. I owe her everything.” It’s not just his
25th anniversary as a recording artist in 2015 that Tippin is
celebrating, but also his and Thea’s 20th anniversary as
husband and wife, as well. Family is the center of Tippin’s
universe – with two teenage sons, Ted and Tom, a grown
daughter, Charla, and a granddaughter.
As the new millennium dawned, Tippin returned to the
top of the charts with “Where The Stars And Stripes And
Eagle Fly,” a song that became part of the American
soundtrack during the aftermath of 9/11. “I wanted to talk
to Americans about who we are at heart, and the fact that
when the going gets tough, that’s when we really stand up.
We may have a lot of differences when everything is calm
and fine, but when it hits the fan, I think we’re the best in
the world at sticking together, and rallying around the
cause. That song served that purpose very well. I wanted
us to be proud as Americans, and get back on with living
In the past decade, Tippin has recorded several musically
diverse projects – including a well received 2009 truck
driving album, In Overdrive. He also partnered with
restaurant chain Cracker Barrel for the release He
Believed. To celebrate his 25th anniversary making records,
he plans to celebrate in a big way. “We’re looking at
putting together a project that has ten old songs, ten new
ones, and five recordings that you never thought you
would hear Aaron Tippin do. We’ll probably do some big
band stuff, like “The Way You Look Tonight” - that’s a
song I love. Thea and I love Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin,
and Tony Bennett. Her dad was a jazz and big band guy.
That was our dance song at the wedding. I would also love
to do a little bit of bluegrass – most people probably don’t
know that I came from bluegrass back in Traveler’s Rest,
SC, where I grew up. Nobody’s ever heard me do any
Gospel, so this gives me a chance to do that. I grew up in
the south, so southern rock is big in my world. I’d like to
take a shot at some of that. I don’t know what the fifth
cut is going to be. We’ve got the hits cut, and we’re fine
tuning the new ones. We just want to make sure that it’s
everything I want it to be, It’s important to me, because I
don’t know if I will make fifty years or not!”
And, of course, another place where Aaron Tippin will be
celebrating such a notable milestone is on the road. The
singer still delights in that hour and a half performing on
the stage – and those who come out to see him. But don’t
call them “fans” - he thinks of them as family. “They have
been so great to me over the years, and they’re still
coming out to the shows. That’s why I still sign autographs
every night. I just want to get out there and shake their
hand and give them a big hug – just to say thank you.
They’re not strangers anymore – they’ve been coming for
twenty five years.”
Along with the new music to celebrate 25 years, Aaron has
partnered with Stonehaus Winery to produce “Aaron
Tippin Country Jam”. It’s a Barrel Selected Blackberry
wine. “Wine making has always been a passion of mine so
I’m so excited about this new venture”.
The Aaron Tippin 25th Anniversary Celebration promises to
be an unforgettable year of music and fun – After all, he
‘wouldn’t have it any other way,’ would he?

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