Amazed and grateful

Hit-making Lonestar marks quarter-century in studio and on the road

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
May 23. 2018 1:00PM
Lonestar’s biggest hit, 1999’s power ballad “Amazed,” was a crossover success that stormed Billboard’s country and Hot 100 charts. 
If you go...
WHO: Lonestar

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry

TICKETS: $45 to $65

INFO: tupelomusichall.com; 437-5100

More than 10 million records sold. Nine No. 1 country hits. Another nine charting in the Top 10.

Not bad for a band that was put together 26 years ago as an avenue for founding member Dean Sams to help “slow down” and take a step back from his busy life.

“I decided to put a band together because the man upstairs blessed me with enough smarts to realize I wasn’t nearly good enough to get a record deal as a solo artist as I would be with a band,” said Sams during a recent telephone interview.

Lonestar rolls into New Hampshire this week — with songs like “No News,” “Mr. Mom,” “I’m Already There” and the mega-smash hit “Amazed” in tow — for a show Friday at Tupelo Music Hall in Derry at 8 p.m.

The band’s debut single, “Tequila Talkin’,” was released in August 1992, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot Country chart. It was included on its self-titled debut album, which was released that October. The next single, “No News,” became the band’s first No. 1 single in April 1996.

Twenty-six years later, Sams has a few thoughts on why the band has lasted so long.

“I’m a big dreamer, but you can’t fulfill your dreams without a lot of hard work, ambition and a strong work ethic. All of us have the same drive to be successful,” said Sams. “We all really care about the music and care about the fans. We try to focus on the right things instead of the wrong things.”

Teaming up in the recording studio and on the road are two of those “right things.”

“Everybody in the band is pretty dang good” at making music, Sams said. “Michael (Britt, who handles lead guitar and backing vocals) and (drummer) Keech (Rainwater) are great musicians, and I’ll put Richie (McDonald, who handles lead vocals and piano) up against any vocalist out there,” said Sams, who goes keyboards, acoustic guitar and backing vocals. “We were doing a show recently where (McDonald) was really sick and could hardly talk, and he killed it. He sounded awesome. He was beating himself up afterward, but I’ll take a sick Richie over a healthy anyone else.”

Although famous as a country band, Lonestar’s success also is a sign of the group’s ability to appeal to a wide audience of musical tastes.

The 1999 power balled “Amazed” spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the country charts and also reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first song to top both charts since 1983, when Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton accomplished the same feat with “Islands in the Stream.”

“We’re heavily influenced by a lot of different music,” Sams said.

A recent example of their lasting popularity happened this month, when singer Caleb Lee Hutchinson performed “Amazed” on TV’s “American Idol.”

“I wasn’t watching, but my phone started blowing up with people telling me I had to turn it on,” said Sams. “(The contestant) was probably about 2 or 3 years old when that song came out. It’s great to see the impact a song like that has so many years later.”

Sams said the band’s current tour isn’t in support of any one album, giving the band the ability to pull songs from throughout their career when crafting a set list.

“There are a lot of memories to draw on,” said Sams.


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