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Eric Church Recalls Embarrassing Opry Performance

Rick Diamond, Getty Images

No one would argue that when Eric Church steps onstage, he positively owns the room (and the crowd) with his confident swagger, growling vocals, party-hard lyrics and those ever-present sunglasses, which lend “Chief” a mysterious air.

Still, the chance to perform at the historic Grand Ole Opry would be enough to rattle any performer, even one with a loyal fanbase like Church. In July, Church made a televised performance at the Opry–this time with two No. 1 hits (‘Drink in My Hand’ and ‘Springsteen’) under his belt. “We had two performances that night. They told me they were filming and they told me what songs they wanted. But they told me for the second set I could play whatever I want to,” Church told JS Online.

“As I was getting ready to walk onstage, Pete Fisher, head of the Opry said to me–he was joking, he said, ‘Don’t forget the words,’” recalled the ‘Springsteen’ singer. That remark proved almost prophetic.

“We got through ‘Creepin’ and ‘Smoke a Little Smoke’ maybe we got through, but we got to ‘Springsteen’ and ‘Drink in My Hand,’ it just steamrolled. One steamrolled into another one,” he continued. The singer was at a loss for the words of two of his biggest hits. “You wait your whole career to have a number one song, and then you get on the frigging Opry on television and you forget the only two number ones that you have,” said Church.

“It’s just one of those things that somewhat goes back to when you’ve played as much as we’ve played and you’ve played in the settings we’ve played, you just go with the energy in the room,” he said.

Ever the showman, Church handled the situation with grace and a sense of humor. “The people there, they were laughing, hell, I was laughing. I’m thinking, ‘Here I am on TV, I just looked over at Pete and shook my head, thinking ‘God almighty…,’” he recalled.

Due to the mishap with the lyrics, Church had to re-record the songs during his second set of the evening, where he got a little help with the lyrics. “During the second set, I didn’t even know the Grand Ole Opry had a teleprompter. I just started ‘Drink in My Hand’ and all of a sudden the words to the song appear in the back of the theater. I about lost it again because it was so funny. It was a funny night.”

Next: Eric Church on Top 100 Country Love Songs List

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