Who Is Neal McCoy? Country Music’s Most Lovable Patriot
Neal McCoy is the guy who has recited the Pledge of Allegiance for 683 straight days and the guy who tapped comedic actor Rob Schneider for the "Billy's Got His Beer Goggles On" music video. The "Take a Knee ... My Ass" singer is one of country music's most beloved personalities with a catalog of hits.
While "Billy's Got His Beer Goggles On" was McCoy's most recent radio hit (reaching the Top 10 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart in 2005), he also has eight Top 5 singles, including chart-toppers with "Wink" and "No Doubt About It" in 1994. "No Doubt About It" was the song McCoy performed for Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert's first dance as a married couple in May 2011, he'd later tell Taste of Country he sprung it on them hoping they'd dance to it. It worked!
"And I saw them singing to each other … so I walked offstage and put the mic to them, and they sang a little bit of it to each other so it was really a special moment for me," McCoy recalled during an interview later that year.
"They're Playin' Our Song," "For a Change" and "The City That Put the Country Back in Me" are three other well-known songs. Most of McCoy's success at radio came between 1993 and 1997, but he has remained a tremendously popular live performer and a dear friend to many country singers, like Shelton and Lambert. In fact, it was Shelton who produced McCoy's last studio album, XII, in 2012.
McCoy's real name is Hubert Neal McGaughey, Jr. and his first musical project was an R&B band out of Texas. In 1981 he won a talent contest that first paired him with Charley Pride — a relationship that would grow and evolve over the decade. Prior to that he sold women's shoes, later telling ToC that the key was being able to flirt and lie.
Much of McCoy's best-known music was more playful a la "Wink," but he's been a firm, honest voice at times. Few country singers were willing to honestly assess Randy Travis' condition after his stroke and a 2014 Trace Adkins incident onboard a cruise ship that led to his going to rehab, but McCoy did. On Travis, McCoy praised his friend's work ethic, but said he wasn't sure the legend would ever recover fully. Of Adkins he offered an opinion on why guests aboard the cruise ship were misled — McCoy was also on the ship but did not witness an alleged scuffle between Adkins and an impersonator.
McCoy has been an emphatic supporter of American troops, playing on (by his count) 15 USO Tours and for troops worldwide. "This is a guy that believes in our country, that does not like people kneeling, not standing with their hands over their hearts, for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. That’s what I’m about," he said recently.
On Nov. 20 he reaffirmed his commitment to troops during his morning Facebook Live, explaining with emphasis that "Take a Knee ... My Ass" isn't a money grab, but something he's felt in his heart since the National Anthem protests began. He appreciates the protests and the American right to protest, but feels the timing is bad and inappropriate.
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Musically McCoy continues to prove his versatility. At the 2016 Taste of Country Music Festival he talked about his new album of standards called You Don't Know Me before covering Bruno Mars, Pride and Sam Hunt, turning "House Party" into a heavy metal song. He also told the story of playing "No Doubt About It" for Shelton and Lambert, adding that he also performed it at Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey's wedding. They too would divorce.
"You know what happened there," he quipped, "so if you're thinking about playing this song as your first dance ... "
The next week at Country Jam he'd lead the entire festival audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Thousands Say the Pledge With Neal McCoy!