Chris Stapleton: The Natural

**** Not long after the Capitol deal fell through, Stapleton began spending his Thursday evenings writing songs with Mike Henderson. “I’d take him over there every Thursday night and drop him off, so he could have his adult beverages while they worked,” says Morgane Stapleton, Chris’ wife and harmony partner. “Mike and Chris had a standing appointment for three or four years. They were a great team.” The guys spent those evenings building up a catalog of murder ballads and bluegrass-influenced tunes. As their co-writing sessions continued, Henderson began talking about booking some gigs at a nearby VFW hall, just to have an excuse to play a few originals and maybe an Earl Scruggs cover or two. He also reached out to three friends — Mike Fleming, Tammy Rogers and Richard Bailey — and suggested they join. The whole crew got together at Henderson’s house one night to practice, and sparks flew as soon as Stapleton and Henderson began introducing their new tunes. The sound gelled quickly, and The SteelDrivers were officially formed. “I was writing songs about killing people and burying them,” Stapleton remembers. “That’s what the SteelDrivers stuff was. It was a lot of tradition. But I was…

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