February 26, 2012
A famed member of the Class of ’89, Travis Tritt suburbanized the Outlaw sound for a broad new country music audience.
Born and raised in Georgia, Tritt received tremendous pressure from his parents to choose a more stable career path. He tried playing by the rules, but this led to a rotation of menial jobs and two failed marriages by age 22. While working for an air conditioning company, he was encouraged by its vice president to follow his dream. Tritt quit, and devoted himself to music.
By then, it was the early eighties. Tritt demonstrated raw talent, and caught the attention of a Warner Bros. executive early on. But it took him most of the decade, recording demos and performing live, for him to secure a record deal. But when his debut single hit in 1989, it was an instant hit. “Country Club” kicked off a string of major hits that would continue until the early 2000s.
Tritt was one of a handful of young men to break out in 1989, and he distinguished himself as the one who carried the torch for the Outlaw music of the seventies. But his brand of country, mixed with southern rock, was notable for how it sanded down the edges. His attitude songs were clever, but tame. He advocated putting drive in your country, and told girls ‘Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)”, but there were no hints of hard drinking, wild carousing, or anything that would normally warrant jail time.
His rougher songs helped shape his image, but radio (and fans) responded most strongly to his ballads. All five of his #1 singles were plaintive tales of love, usually describing a man who has made mistakes or had trouble expressing his feelings, and is indebted to the woman who allows him to be vulnerable. He coupled the best of these songs with powerful music videos. He played a paralyzed vet in a trilogy of videos that began with the landmark “Anymore”, appeared as a prisoner in “Best of Intentions,” and was even a guardian angel in “Foolish Pride.”
Most of his work for Warner Bros. resulted in platinum records, but when the hits faded at that label, he had a second act as a star for Columbia Records in the early 2000s. His first album for them, Down the Road I Go, went platinum and included four top ten hits. Later releases failed to reach the same heights, and he departed after releasing the critically acclaimed My Honky Tonk History in 2004.
Most recently, Tritt explored his blue-eyed soul side with the 2007 independent release, The Storm. He remains a popular touring act, and his influence can be heard on a new generation of country artists, including 21st century hitmakers like Montgomery Gentry and Eric Church.
- Help Me Hold On, 1990
- Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares), 1991
- Anymore, 1991
- Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man, 1992
- Foolish Pride, 1994
- It’s a Great Day to Be Alive, 2000
- It’s all About to Change, 1991
- T-R-O-U-B-L-E, 1992
- Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof, 1994
- Down the Road I Go, 2000
- My Honky Tonk History, 2004
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