Tim McGraw doesn’t have that many secrets anymore. He’s at that level of fame where we’ve kind of heard it all — how he discovered Tug McGraw was his birth father, that he’s sober and that he works out like crazy.
But on Oprah’s Master Class on Sunday (June 8), we learned a few new things.
1. The first time he saw Faith Hill — in a photo in a Billboard magazine in his manager’s office — he said, “Who the hell is this?”
2. Hauling cotton seed made him the man he is. McGraw spent a lot of time riding around with his stepfather in an 18-wheeler. “As a country music artist, there’s not a better foundation than haulin’ cotton seed across Louisiana and Texas in an 18-wheeler listening to eight-tracks of George Jones and Merle Haggard.”
3. He cries. When he talked about how lucky his daughters are to have Hill as their mother, he started to weep.
4. McGraw’s steady rock as a teenager was coach Butler, his school’s history teacher, assistant principal and basketball and baseball coach. “The male role model situation around our home wasn’t exactly great, so it was really awesome to have somebody like coach Butler — somebody you could observe and learn how you should carry yourself.”
5. His biological father gave him a confidence he didn’t know he had. “Knowing his blood was in me, that inspired me. He gave me a dream of what my life could become.”
6. McGraw might have been a lawyer. He went college as a pre-law major, but after his freshman year, he got hooked on music. He pawned his high school ring for $25, bought a guitar and learned to play about 50 songs. Then he started playing shows at the Firehouse Saloon near campus at Northeast Louisiana University. “The only people that came were my fraternity brothers and people I went to college with. I got free beer and free catfish. That’s what I lived on. I was hooked.” His move to Nashville required him to sell everything he had — even water skis and shotguns. “I got on a Greyhound bus and never looked back.”
7. The emotional scene in Friday Night Lights where McGraw’s character gives his son his state championship ring hit close to home for him. When he was 20, he went to go see his dad, and Tug McGraw took off his national league championship ring and gave it to him before he went back to college. “It’s still one of the things about that movie that I’ll never forget.”
8. His drinking problem started with little seven-ounce Miller beers while he’d be sitting on a tailgate around a bonfire. “You can come up with a million excuses why you drink too much. It got to the point where I knew I drank too much. It was turning me into a person I didn’t want to be.” The first tour McGraw went on after that epiphany — and then quitting — was the toughest one of his life.
9. His oldest daughter Gracie is dating a college guy.