BMI Toasts Writers of the Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried”

Song Took a Roundabout Route to the No. 1 Spot

BMI, the performance rights organization, threw a party at its Nashville headquarters Thursday (March 5) to celebrate “Chicken Fried,” the Zac Brown Band’s first No. 1 single.

Specifically being honored were the song’s two writers, Brown and Wyatt Durrette.

Jody Williams, BMI’s vice president of writer-publisher relations, said the Zac Brown Band’s roundabout route to the top of the charts was like the encounters between the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote in the cartoon series.

“The roadrunner is the Zac Brown Band,” Williams proposed, “and the coyote is the way things are usually done.”

“Chicken Fried” was first released as a single in 2006 by the Lost Trailers. It went to No 53 on Billboard’s country chart before Brown decided to release it with his own band.

“There was a lot of resistance from radio stations because the song had been released before,” Brown told the partygoers.

Another turn in the road occurred, Williams noted, when producer Keith Stegall “discovered” Brown’s group. Stegall is the studio wizard behind Alan Jackson’s long string of hits.

Alan Kates, who partners with Stegall in Big Picture Entertainment, told the crowd he got a call from a friend one day at around 6 p.m. telling him he had to “go see this band,” which would be going on stage about two hours later.

Kates said he brought Stegall with him and that about halfway into the band’s first song, Stegall turned to him and said, “Make this happen. Now.”

Stegall wound up producing the band’s current album, The Foundation, and helped it secure a distribution deal with Atlantic Records. The band’s latest single is “Whatever It Is.”

“I’ve seen a lot of bands and a lot of people,” Stegall said, “but there was something going on with this band.”

BMI presented both writers with acoustic guitars to commemorate their first No. 1.

View photos from the No. 1 party.
Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to