It’s Official. Rascal Flatts is Done. For Now.

Sorry all you “Flattheads,” Rascal Flatts is done. Do not pass ‘Go.’ Do not collect $200. It’s finito. Curtains. Even their supposed “farewell tour” that they announced in January of 2020 to drive up tickets sales while winking and nodding that perhaps they could still come back if they wanted, that won’t be rescheduled after being postponed due to COVID-19. In fact there’s no plans for the troika to do anything together into the foreseeable future at all, while the respective players are pursuing other interests.

Lead singer Gary LeVox is readying the release of a Christian music-oriented single called “The Distance” on March 19th that is part of a greater Christian music album he’s been working on, and he’s planning to record a solo country album after that. LeVox is also planning to tour in 2021 to sing his new material along with Rascal Flatts songs, but not with fellow Flatts members Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney.

“Flatts aren’t going to go back on the road this year. But I’ll be on the road for sure,” Gary LeVox told Billboard recently. “I have 17 No. 1s with Rascal Flatts, plus there’s my new stuff. I’ll be covering all bases.”

Meanwhile bass player/singer Jay DeMarcus who started a side venture called Red Street Records in late 2019 and appointed himself CEO has poured himself full tilt into the project, announcing a host of new signees in January to the Christian-oriented label, including vocal trio Jawbone Honey, and songwriters Kevin Rooney, Justin Unger, and Josh and Jordan Ward.

“I am personally grateful that these amazing talents have chosen RSR as their home, and I’m honored to join them on their journeys. I can’t wait for the world to hear them, and we are so excited about what God continues to do at Red Street!”
Jay DeMarcus said at the time. There’s also supposedly a Netflix series out there following him and his family around. Who knew?

Meanwhile guitarist and high harmony singer Joe Don Rooney? Well, he doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything. But he’s married to a former Miss USA runner-up and the 2005 Playmate of the Year. So you know, he’s “enjoying life” at the moment.

First formed in 1999 in a nightclub in Nashville’s Printer’s Alley district, Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus were second cousins from Columbus, Ohio, and guitarist Joe Don Rooney was from Oklahoma. Rooney filled in one night behind the two relatives, and soon they were performing as a trio. Their soft, vocal-driven style of country pop was perfect for radio, and soon they were signed to Lyrics Street Records, appropriately owned by The Disney Corporation. They then went on to front 17 headlining tours.

Undoubtedly the inevitable reunion tour will take shape at some point in the future when nostalgia and touring opportunities make it too lucrative for the respective members to pass up. Who better for a Las Vegas residency someday than Rascal Flatts? They’re custom made for the casino lounge.

But it is surprising they couldn’t even hold the thing together long enough to fulfill the farewell tour they had planned and cash out the franchise before going their separate ways—pandemic and the necessary delays notwithstanding. Perhaps ticket sales were more paltry than expected, and the pandemic provided good cover.

Sure, it’s easy to hoot on these guys if you’re a traditional country fan. But many pray for the days when their sanguine, pallid, inoffensive, strikingly pop version of radio country and frosted tip hairdos were the worst thing you had to interface with in the “country” realm.

They’ll be back for sure, unless they aren’t. But after 21 years and 17 #1 singles, it does feel like the end of an era. And as we’ve seen over the years as the ills of mainstream country continue to worsen, it’s an era someone will be nostalgic for and others will be re-evaluating more favorably in the future.

© 2021 Saving Country Music
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