OFFSTAGE: Nudie Suit Couldn’t Save Paul McDonald

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

I wonder what Paul McDonald’s American Idol legacy will be. Oh, wait. I do know. It will be that suit. Not because it was so outlandish of the Nashville contestant to wear a white Nudie-style suit covered with embroidered roses and rhinestones that allegedly cost him $4,500, but because he wore it twice. Twice! It was created by the son of Manuel Cuevas, who apprenticed under Nudie Cohn. Known as Nudie the Rodeo Tailor, he was the custom-embellished suit-maker to the stars from the ’50s through the early ’80s. (Cohn also created the 1964 Bonneville Kid Rock is driving in his “Born Free” video.) I’ve heard that Idol contestants get a weekly paycheck of around $2,800, so if McDonald paid $4,500 for the suit, it’s not too hefty of a price tag when you consider his income from the show. He wore the suit during his performance of an original song, “American Dreams,” during the final Hollywood round of the competition, then again five weeks later when he sang Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” When Steven Tyler first saw the suit, he asked McDonald, “Hey, man, what were you doing in my closet?” I know deep down the suit had nothing to do with McDonald’s success on the show or with getting voted off Thursday night (April 14). But I do think that regardless of his scruffy, sexy face and his soft, quirky voice, it may be how people will remember him.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.