With a top-twenty charting single under his belt and an invitation on Rascal Flatt's 2006 fall tour, Capitol Records recording artist Eric Church appeared to be following the typical path of a new artist. Well, almost.
His second single, "Two Pink Lines," was labeled controversial by some radio programmers due to its teenage pregnancy concept. Eric and his label stood by the song; it peaked at nineteen on the Billboard country singles chart.
Then Rascal Flatts asked Eric to open for them during their "Me and My Gang" tour, a prime score for a newcomer. The thirty-minute slot would expose the up-and-coming singer-songwriter to thousands of fans nationwide. However, Eric Church and his band often played longer than they were allowed to, causing a riff between management. Because he did not adhere to warnings, Eric Church was ultimately fired from the tour after a gig on October 14, 2006, at Madison Square Garden.
Years later Eric declared to Playboy Magazine, "We ended up banished to the wilderness. Nobody would touch us. It’s like we were nuclear. We’re further into rock and roll than anyone else, and that’s why a lot of traditionalists have a major problem with me."
Eric's replacement for the Rascal Flatts tour was a young singer-songwriter who had just released her debut single. Eric told the budding star that he wanted a plaque if her soon-to-be released album went platinum. The singer? Taylor Swift. A few months later Taylor presented Eric with a RIAA plaque certifying sales of one million copies of her self-titled release.
Eric's infamous Madison Square Garden certainly gave him coverage throughout the music scene, but he wasn't the first country artist to be kicked offstage. In 1964, George Jones performed alongside nine other acts, including Bill Monroe and Buck Owens, before he was carried offstage for his heavy drinking. The venue? Madison Square Garden.