In 2006, Eric Church released his debut album Sinners Like Me. And the title track had a line in it about going to his visit his grandfather’s grave with his brother and toasting the man who made them who they are.
On Monday (July 2), Church’s official fan club confirmed the news that his brother had died. “It is with great sadness to confirm that Eric’s brother, Brandon, passed away on Friday evening. In lieu of flowers we are encouraging everyone to donate to a Scholarship Memorial Fund created on Brandon’s behalf. You can leave a message that will go via email directly to Ken and Rita.”
The fund in Brandon’s name is already well over the $10,000 mark, and will likely continue to climb as more friends and fans hear the news about the tragic loss. “This loving memorial is set up to honor Brandon E. Church, beloved son, brother, father and friend. In lieu of flowers, please pay forward a gift that will keep on giving to others through furthering their education,” the fund’s site says. “The Brandon E. Church Memorial Scholarship Fund will be used to bless others and honor a benevolent life. Thank you for showing your love and support to the Church family.”
Eric and Brandon co-wrote a couple of early songs — “How ‘Bout You” from Sinners Like Me in 2006 and “Without You Here” from Carolina in 2009 — but their collaborations go back even earlier, to the start of the Mountain Boys in the late ’90s.
When Eric was a sophomore at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., he saw a band play at a local bar and thought he might be able to do the same. “I went back and got my brother and two college roommates who happened to be musicians. And the next week we had a gig,” Church told CMT.com in 2006 about how the Mountain Boys band got their start. That band released an album they recorded and pressed themselves in Hickory, N.C., The Mountain Boys Live at the Blues Room.
“In college,” he’d said, “I spent most nights in bars with the same people I was raised around.”
Brandon Church is survived by his parents, his daughter, his brother and his family, and his sister and her family.