Before taking her talents to Nashville, Gretchen Wilson paid her dues in bars and clubs around rural Illinois. Mostly it was just one bar, a dive called Big O's. By age 15 she had dropped out of school to tend bar and cook for the rowdy customers. She worked her way up to manager pretty quickly, and always kept a loaded 12-gauge shotgun near her for protection.

In 1996 the future 'Redneck Woman' singer had moved to Nashville, but it would be awhile before she'd find success. So she went back to serving drinks at bars in Printers Alley while honing her songwriting skills with John Rich, Big Kenny and the rest of the MusikMafia. In 2004 her world blew up, in a good way.