Brad Paisley Celebrates Two Prize Catches

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It wasn’t exactly like sighting Cleopatra’s barge, but guests did crowd the dock and cheer Tuesday (July 30) as Brad Paisley buzzed his little fishing boat up to the waterfront eatery to join the party convened there to celebrate his No. 1 hit, “I’m Gonna Miss Her.” Held at Admiral Jim’s Restaurant on Nashville’s Percy Priest Lake, the party’s location was a tie-in with the theme of Paisley’s song, which concludes, albeit reluctantly, that fishing is preferable to lovemaking.

But wait! There’s more! Besides savoring this latest record success, Paisley also announced his agreement to headline the first ever CMT Most Wanted Live tour. The 44-city tour will feature an array of new country artists as Paisley’s opening acts, among them Steve Azar, Chris Cagle , Tammy Cochran , Andy Griggs , Steve Holy , Shannon Lawson, Pinmonkey, Rascal Flatts , Tommy Shane Steiner and Darryl Worley . Azar, Cagle, Griggs, Lawson and Steiner were on hand for the announcement.

In addition to recording “I’m Gonna Miss Her,” Paisley also co-wrote the song with his longtime friend and producer, Frank Rogers. The song topped CMT’s Top 20 Countdown and Billboard’s country singles charts for two weeks and Radio & Records’ chart for one week.

Ceremonies began with the two songwriters accepting awards from ASCAP, the performance rights organization, EMI Music Publishing and the RCA Label Group. Paisley was dressed in a brown, muscle-baring T-shirt, white cowboy hat and jeans. Rogers stood beside him, holding his son, Manny. Noting that it was Rogers’ first No. 1, ASCAP’s Marc Driskill presented him a black “No. 1 ASCAP Club” jacket.

Gary Overton, executive vice president and general manager of EMI Music, handed out plaques. He joked that he had never seen Paisley actually catch a fish but that he had discovered a childhood photo of him holding one. That photo, showing a very young Paisley brandishing a minnow-size catch, was reproduced on each plaque.

“Because it cost so much money for the video and all the costs of promoting the record, we don’t have any plaque for you, Brad,” Joe Galante explained in tones of mock remorse. Galante is head of the RCA Label Group, of which Paisley’s label, Arista Records, is a member. Galante painted an affectionate picture of Paisley as a hard-headed artist who insists on doing things his way, whether it’s choosing a single or deciding the parameters of a music video. “We don’t have a plaque,” Galante repeated, “but we do have these fish.” He then handed Paisley and Rogers each a string of brightly painted ornamental fish.

Taking the microphone, Paisley gave the crowd a brief history of “I’m Gonna Miss Her.” “We wrote this at Belmont University,” he said. “We were seniors. … We wrote it, thinking it would be just a fun thing.” He said his inclination was toward writing darker material, but that the response to this song was so positive that he decided to demo it to pitch to other artists. (He explained that all this took place before he had his own record deal.)

“Within a week of the demo,” he continued, “it was on hold for George Strait.” (A hold means that an artist has indicated a strong interest in recording the song and that the publisher temporarily quits pitching it to other artists.) After Strait passed on it, Garth Brooks put it on hold. He, too, decided not to record it. “Then Alan Jackson wanted it,” said Paisley, “and he didn’t cut it, either.”

While all this holding and passing was going on, Paisley signed to Arista and began writing and selecting songs for his first album. One day, Paisley’s publisher told him that Jackson had again expressed an interest in the song. So, asked the publisher, should he give it to Jackson, or did Paisley now want it for himself? “Are you going to call him back?” Paisley said he asked. “Yes,” said the publisher. “Then tell him, ’Hell no!'”

Leading up to the announcement of the tour, Paisley told the crowd, “One of the most important parts of this song was the video.” He praised CMT for “presenting country music better than anybody else these days.” With that, he introduced Brian Philips, senior vice president and general manager of CMT. Philips explained how the concept of the tour developed. “We owe this idea to TBA [Entertainment Corporation], particularly Steve Moore and Clarence Spalding.” TBA will produce the tour. “It’s time for CMT to get in the business and get our own show on the road,” Philips concluded.

Famed for his mischief-making on the road, Paisley taunted the supporting artists to come forward “if you can face me now. Practical jokes start directly after this party.” With Azar, Cagle, Steiner, Lawson and Griggs standing beside him, Paisley beamed, “Except for one of these guys, I’m friends with all of them.”

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to