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Hard Times

Trace Adkins Bounces Back

Life got a lot harder in March 2014 for country superstar Trace Adkins. Sadly, Adkins is splitting from his wife after over 16 years. Adkins’ wife, Rhonda Adkins, filed for divorce in Williamson County, Tennessee Tuesday citing “irreconcilable differences.” The couple was married in 1997. They have three daughters (aged 16, 12, and 9) and Rhonda is asking for primary residential custody as well as child support and alimony. This is just more bad news in what is shaping up to be a rough year for the country singer: Adkins entered rehab in January for substance abuse after 12 years of sobriety. Adkins, who has battled alcohol addiction in the past, was headlining a country cruise to Jamaica when he reportedly got into an argument with a Trace Adkins impersonator who was singing karaoke in a bar on the ship. A spokesperson for Adkins confirmed that the Louisiana native exited the cruise when it arrived in Jamaica and has since checked into rehab. According to USA Today, he then left rehab a few weeks later when his father was dying. After his father died, he returned to finish treatment. It sounds like a sad country song in itself. One thing, however, has remained the same: Adkins’ signature baritone voice. With influences such as Merle Haggard, George Jones, Ed Bruce, and Ronnie Milsap, listening to southern rock was the one of the things that kept him grounded. After completing rehab in May 2014, he embarked on another nationwide tour in support of his latest release, 2013’s Love Will…
“I’m excited, recharged and ready to get back on the road,” Adkins said in a statement. “I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone for the outpouring of encouragement and support over the past few months. It’s hard to put into words how much comfort you take from hearing ‘We’ve got your back.’ So these shows are for you guys — thanks.”
Adkins has come a long way since singing gospel music and playing high school football in his home state of Louisiana. After college, Adkins moved on to playing in honky tonk bars around Nashville, Tennessee in the early ‘90s. An executive of Capitol Nashville spotted Adkins playing at a honky tonk, and soon signed him to the label. The rest is history. Eleven studio albums, five compilation albums, and millions of fans later, Adkins sits atop an impenetrable musical empire. His first big single, 1996’s “(This Ain’t) No Thinking Thing,” was a hit and he will never forget where he was when he heard the news.
“I was in a casino up around Michigan somewhere,” he recalled. “There was a tiny little casino up there and I was playing the lounge that night, there was like seventy-five people there, I was on stage and I said, ‘Well it’s a big day for me I found out we got our first #1 record’ and they looked at me like, ‘Yea right.’”
Well, it was right. Adkins was off and running. A year later, he penned 2007’s A Personal Stand: Observations and Opinions from a Freethinking Roughneck, something highly sought after by his friends.
“Well really it was in an attempt to get everyone to shut up that was urging me to do it,” he said. “Over the years I have had a lot of people trying to get me to and I hadn’t really felt the desire to do it. Finally they just turned up the volume enough. Another reason was to get my autobiography out there.
“I hope people learn personal responsibility, that’s why the book is called “A Personal Stand,” he adds. “We are a nation of whiners. Everybody is good at identifying the problems but then we just whine about it. ‘Oh that’s a problem; I wish somebody would so something about that.’ Instead of trying to take action in our own personal ways, if we would all do that a lot of these problems could be fixed.”
There’s no doubt Adkins is trying to fix things after last year’s tribulations. Music has never let him down and he still experiences a thrill every time he writes a new hit.
“I think I get more excited now,” he said. “The first one was cool but it had just come out and I didn’t really know what to expect. That was my third single and it went number one and I thought, ‘Ok they’ll all go number one now.’ Well it doesn’t work that way. So I would say it means even more now then that first one did. Because I have found out just how hard it is to get another one.”
Adkins had some advice for up and comers in the music business.
“Make sure you have a good job to fall back on; something else you can do,” he said. “There are long, long odds in this business, a lot more fail than succeed.”

Trace Adkins at RiverFest with Frankie Ballard and Blackberry Smoke, July 18, at WinnaVegas, Sloan, Iowa, 5 p.m. Tickets are $49/ADV and $59/DOS. Visit for more information.

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