Rockie Lynne has appeared nationally on “Good Morning America,” CMT, GAC, The Grand Ole Opry “Live” and Fox News. His debut single, "Lipstick," spent an impressive 10 consecutive weeks in the #1 slot on Billboard’s Country Singles Sales chart.
Lynne first made a name for himself when he released his critically acclaimed self-titled debut CD on Universal Records. He was named a “breakout artist” by ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.” Billboard Magazine named him their artist “Most Likely To Succeed” and he has made countless media appearances, including performances on GMA’s Summer Concert Series and 14 appearances on the Grand Ole Opry.
With a life long interest in music, this native of Statesville, N.C., has been singing and writing songs since the age of 14. After high school, he joined the Army, where he served for three years in the 82nd Airborne at Ft. Bragg.
After leaving the military, he starting playing clubs and quickly earned an enthusiastic following for his crowd-pleasing live show and his chops as a lead guitarist. Lynne, whose electrifying concert performances have garnered him a fiercely loyal fan base, spent the better part of the last year touring and writing songs for his new album, Songs For Soldiers. One third of the proceeds from the record will benefit troop related charities. The inspiration for the album was his 21-day tour of Afghanistan, Southwest Asia, and The Persian Gulf, where he and his band entertained U.S. troops stationed abroad.
Lynne is co-founder of an annual charity motorcycle ride called TRIBUTE TO THE TROOPS, where riders visit the homes of the families of our fallen soldiers to acknowledge them for having made such an honorable sacrifice. The organization has raised over $200,000 in aid to the familes of the fallen.
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“The next big thing in country could be Rockie Lynne." -Philadelphia Daily News
“Musical and entertaining from start to finish, this debut presents a young country singer with vast potential and plenty of resourcefulness already.” ***½ - People Magazine
“He seems poised for stardom...helped along by his fierce work ethic, telegenic face and most of all, his triple-threat talent as a singer, songwriter and guitar whiz.” - Billboard
“Lynne’s self-titled Universal South debut is solid front to back. The 12-track disc is country-rock with just enough of an old-school edge to appeal to both contemporary and traditional listeners …Traditionalists who complain there’s no real country music coming out of Nashville, should listen to this track … it shouldn’t be long before Lynne is a household name. Powerful stuff.” - Walmart.com
“…a solid debut album that nods to the mainstream while revealing and reveling in tradition. Writing or co-writing all of the album’s dozen songs, Lynne’s a true country romantic … Lynne shows he’s got the goods to parlay this promising start into a significant career.” - Barnesandnoble.com
“…his blend of contemporary country, melodic pop and anthemic rock … Lynne is a solid songwriting and singer, turning out friendly, sturdy modern country … debut that’s both satisfying and promising.” - All Music Guide
“…a guy who writes and sings in genres from old-style country to modern country rock… Lynne wrote all 12 songs on the CD and has surrounded himself with musicians who reflect his diversity in a winning blend that is well worth a listen.” -
“On a debut album that rings with a lifetime’s authority, he’s written or co-written every song and his guitar shines throughout ... Big, romantic and driven by muscular guitars…” -Music Row magazine
"[Lynne's] original tunes channel the sound and spirit of '70s California country-rock. It wouldn't be too hard to mistake moments like the poignant "That's Where Songs Come From" and the emotionally raw "Do We Still" for long-buried solo tracks from a long-lost member of the Byrds." - Detroit Free Press
From a purely personal point of view, the way Rockie Lynne sees it, life doesn’t necessarily begin at birth. “When I was in the seventh grade I mowed lawns and saved my money until I had enough to go to JC Penney and buy a guitar. That was the beginning of my life.”
Technically, life before music began for this singer/songwriter in Statesville, North Carolina, in the Piedmont region of the state where Interstates 40 and 77 meet. It was a small town where many of the residents make a living in one of the furniture factories and live their lives according to the strict tenets of the Southern Baptist church.
“Growing up in my family it was church, church, church,” Lynne recalls. “Several times a week, sometimes twice in one day. And according to Southern Baptists, everything is a sin.” Certainly, the notion of a boy, still too young to read a hymnal, who believed that his own words he was singing in his head were better than those he was hearing sung around him by members of the congregation, would have been regarded as near blasphemy, so he kept his words and his thoughts to himself.
And luckily for him, a Kodak moment that caught a four year old Rockie holding his uncle’s guitar did not also reveal the passion in his young heart for music, inexplicable given the fact that there was none in his own home. At least not until he bought the guitar and shortly afterwards a record player from an unlikely source. “The First Baptist Church was having a yard sale and there was a cheap little record player with two albums for 75 cents. We were totally poor, so every cent mattered. But since the money was going to the church, my mother guessed it was okay.”
Had she been familiar with the artists whose records were part of the package—Kiss and Jimi Hendrix—she no doubt would have considered it far from okay, a fact young Rockie was well aware of. “I knew I would get into big trouble if my parents ever actually heard the records, so I sat in my closet late at night listening to them really low and trying to figure the songs out on my guitar.”
He joined his high school jazz ensemble, and then began playing in bands. “We had a million different names, we were always getting fired. They wanted us to play cover songs, but we played my songs. We would get fired and a few weeks later, I would book us at the same place under a different name and some other band’s photo.” He met the members of a much older band at an industrial building where they all practiced, though musicianship was frequently compromised by their habits of hard drinking and fighting. One night their guitar player quit and Lynne volunteered to take his place.
“I have always gravitated to music. I don’t remember ever not feeling that way. I believed in my heart that I had something to say; songs to sing that were worth sharing, that people would want to hear. It wasn’t as if I had the goal of a record deal—that was hardly conceivable. I just wanted to write songs and make music. I felt that I was a success just because I managed to earn a living doing it.”
Throughout his life, Lynne was also blessed with moments and people of nearly divine intervention. When he was a teen, neighbor Johnny Harrell, who was stationed at nearby Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in the Army’s Special Forces, provided an inspiring role model.
“When he came home to visit, his presence, how he carried himself, made a big impression on me. In my house, as soon as you graduated from high school, you were gone. Joining the Army made sense to me. It seemed like a good place to start. The military turned out to be the most shaping experience of my life, on so many levels. I learned perseverance, self-discipline and respect, for self and others. My drill sergeant was a huge guy and I was a skinny kid. It was really tough, but I looked up to him and it was good for me. When I graduated from basic training, he told me that if I could finish that, I could do anything. I believed him.”
While Lynne was stationed at Fort Bragg, another mentor emerged. Jimmy Herring, a recent graduate of G.I.T. (Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles) who worked in a nearby music store, not only shared what he had learned with Rockie, but made an indelible impression on his eager student.
“Musically, he was very soft-spoken but he practiced all the time. He was totally focused and dedicated. That was a great example for me, since there was a lot of downtime at night on the base. Even now, if I don’t practice at least two hours a day every day I feel like I’m cheating myself.”
When his three years of active duty were up, Lynne moved on to the next stage of the life he was creating for himself; he loaded up his 1984 Toyota pick-up truck and pointed it west, to Hollywood, enrolling at G.I.T. on the G.I. Bill and renting a small apartment right around the corner.
“Man, talk about a fish out of water,” he says with a laugh. “Between my upbringing and the Army, I had no social experience at all. I was so shy and unsure of myself in that environment that I had to buy a pair of sunglasses just to walk down the street. But the school is where I found my place, I didn’t do anything except go to school and hang out with the buddies I made there. We all played at different places, so music was pretty much my life by then. Most of them were either into jazz or hard rock, but I had always gravitated to country music. People figured I was authentic because I grew up on a dirt road.”
After G.I.T., he participated in some of the cattle calls for musicians regularly held in Los Angeles. In one of those, he was among the last two standing for a slot in a band with a record deal. When he didn’t make it, he packed up the truck again and drove east until the road ended at the ocean, this time in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he put it in park while he figured out the next step.
A popular local entertainer, Mike Shane, showed him the way. “After I saw him perform the first time, I introduced myself and told him I wanted to play for him. He hired me and I toured with him for two years as his guitar player and bandleader. I watched everything he did. Mike Shane moved me vocally like no one else. Up until then, I had never thought of myself as a singer, but he asked me to do the harmony part on “Set ’Em Up, Joe,” an old Vern Gosdin song. I did it, and afterwards, he gave me a copy of Chiseled In Stone and told me that if I listened to that album, I would be able to play country music. So, I listened over and over and learned all those songs.”
When Shane went to Nashville in the early ’90s to do some recording, Lynne went along and ended up staying a couple of years when he scored some side jobs playing guitar for country acts (Noel Haggard, B.B. Watson, the McCarter Sisters).
But, by the mid ’90s, Lynne grew frustrated by the lack of personal expression that type of gig demanded, got back in his truck and hit the road, this time playing solo gigs in “bottom tier clubs” and selling CDs he had recorded himself: for the first time, leaving his career as a guitar player for hire and taking on the role of the front man.
“Everywhere I played, starting from the beginning, I did original material. I love the feeling of going to the next place and playing songs people have never heard. It’s a little scary because you don’t know how they will respond, but you have to have faith. That’s when my songwriting developed sort of a pop-country hook. If there’s a bar full of people who want to hear “Sweet Home Alabama” and you’re playing one of your own songs instead, you’d better hook them right away. We traveled the whole country, so we’d only get to a place twice a year. The first couple of times, people would write Lynyrd Skynryd songs on a napkin, but by the third time in, they’d be asking for my songs. That was an incredible feeling.”
The whole country is a pretty big place, so eventually Lynne decided that if he was going to build a loyal regional fan base, he needed to pick a region. The Midwest was appealing on several levels and Minnesota as good a place as any. “I had been on the road so long, I didn’t have any roots. To say I moved there would be an overstatement. I stopped there.” There was Coon Rapids, a short drive northeast of Minneapolis and northwest of St. Paul, on the Mississippi River.
Over time, logging 200-300 dates a year, he accomplished his goal of building a solid regional base of fans, while selling more than 40,000 copies of his independent CDs. “Though I never did this with the purpose of getting a major label record deal, I knew I had gone as far as I could go without one. It is a blessing to do what you love. I’ve always been happy, but I’m not satisfied. I would like to sing my songs for as many people as I can.
There are 300 million people in the United States. I just need one million of them.”
Or just one, if that one happens to be Doug Morris, the worldwide CEO of the largest music company in the world, Universal Music Group. After a three-song audition in his New York office, Morris signed Lynne that same day, placing him on the roster of Nashville-based label Universal Records South.
“Though I had been making music almost my whole life, all of this happened so fast. I felt like Alice in Wonderland falling through the rabbit hole,” Lynne says. “I could not believe what was happening.”
He was teamed with producers Tony Brown and Blake Chancey to record his self-titled major label debut. Released in 2006, that critically acclaimed CD spawned three charting singles including Lynne’s breakthrough hit, “Lipstick,” which spent an impressive 10 consecutive weeks in the No. 1 position atop Billboard’s Country Singles Sales chart.
Another song from that CD, “Red, White & Blue,” is now played at most memorial service in Iraq for fallen U.S. servicemen or women, something Lynne takes considerable pride in given his lifelong dedication to military causes.
Lynne wrote or co-wrote every song on the album, and quickly became solidly entrenched in the Nashville songwriting community.
“My music is a snapshot that captures who I am and where I’ve been to get to where I am now,” Lynne says. “I have always written very autobiographically. My songs are musical expressions of some part of my life. There’s a piece of my own truth somewhere in everything I write. I bring a sense of experience that an eighteen year old or a twenty-five year old doesn’t have.”
Once the Universal South album was released, Lynne’s career began accelerating quickly. Billboard magazine named him its artist “most likely to succeed” and he was chosen as a “breakout artist” by ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.” People magazine bestowed three and one-half stars on his major label debut.
In addition to “Good Morning America,” Lynne has made countless media appearances, including performances on Fox News, CMT, GAC and more than a dozen appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, all while continuing to build his loyal fan base through relentless touring.
Among Lynne’s greatest strengths is his ability to wow crowds with his live performances. “I spent at least 10 years entertaining people who don’t necessarily want to be entertained,” he says of the time spent paying his dues. “What I bring to the table is that when they put butts in seats in front of me, I’m going to entertain them and it’s going to be legitimate.”
Lynne’s success has enabled him to contribute his time and energy to a number of charity causes he is passionate about. Most notably, for the last six years he has organized and hosted a charity motorcycle ride called Tribute To the Troops, in which hundreds of riders visit the homes of Minnesota’s fallen soldiers to thank the families for their sacrifice. The organization has donated over $200,000 to U.S. Soldiers and their loved ones.
Additionally, Lynne has performed a Memorial Day concert for the last two years for the wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and has entertained our deployed soldiers at military bases all over the world.
“It really means something to me,” Lynne says of his support of the military. “I was one of those kids. I had nothing at all. I joined the army and suddenly I had something. That experience gave me independence and a freedom I never had so I spend a good bit of time thanking people for their service to all of us.”
“As a musician and songwriter, I have a unique opportunity to touch other people in a way that most people only dream about. It’s truly an honor. My goal all along has been to make records that are meaningful and great and then use that exposure to make something good happen in this world,” Lynne says. “It’s a joy to play music. It’s a joy to do this for a living. I’m trying to really do as the late Warren Zevon once said...enjoy every sandwich.”