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Don’t let his rock star looks fool you! Despite his tousled shoulder length hair, his earring and his urban chic clothes, Joe Nichols is pure, traditional, rich-voiced country. But that shouldn’t stop you from looking. The boy is mega-cool and ultra easy on the eyes. So look. And, if you like, listen.

Joe’s second album from Universal South, Revelation, hits the streets in June. "We took the same approach as the first album and this one has the same feel," Joe says. "But the songs are a little more worldly, a little deeper and a little further down in my chest, my heart." Fans and doting critics alike have been impatiently waiting for the follow-up to his gold-selling debut, 2002’s Man with a Memory, the album that spawned a spate of radio hits including the tear-jerker "The Impossible" and the heart-wrenching, "She Only Smokes When She Drinks."

Just when we thought Joe might become the new weepy ballad guy, along came the chart-topping "Brokenheartsville" where we find Joe being cheered up by his buddies in a bar ("she can kiss my glass") after his gal runs off with a creep in a Coup de Ville. Next, in "Cool to Be a Fool", Joe had us almost believing that "if it was cool to be a fool he’d be the hippest guy around." Sorry, despite the infectiousness of this tune, we’re not buying the jilted Joe act. (He dates a playboy bunny in real life).

Twenty-seven-year-old Joe Nichols’ "overnight success" took a lot of years to get rolling. "That term ‘overnight success’ just kills me," Joe grins. "I’d like to show people a video of me rolling up quarters so I could go eat at McDonald’s."

Growing up in Rogers, Arkansas, Joe was surrounded by the classic country music favored and played by his grandfather, uncles and father. He was also inspired by the new crop of traditionalists such as Alan Jackson and Randy Travis.

When he turned 19, Joe signed an independent record deal but things didn’t take off right away. He moved to Nashville and for the next six years worked odd jobs, such as selling steaks door-to-door and hauling boxes for UPS. For a while, he lived with his guitar player, Brian Spradlin and Brian’s then-wife,while playing low-paying bar gigs (he was the "house band" at Rippy’s on Broadway for a year), writing songs and making contacts.

His big break came when the new Universal South record company signed him as their first artist and his very first single, "The Impossible" shot to Number 1. An incredible year followed, during which Joe was honored with four Grammy nominations and awarded The Country Music Association’s Horizon Award, as well as many other honors.

For now, Joe plans to keep doing what he’s doing and try to find a way to spend more time with his six-year-old daughter, Ashelyn, who lives with her mother in Nashville.

"Being with Ashelyn makes me so happy it just bleeds into every other day of my life," says Joe with his signature sideways grin. "Life is good." / Issue 42 - September 1878
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