Gone Country: 7 Rockers Who Set Their Sights on Nashville

Any rockstar with a decades-long career has probably checked many a milestone off their list. Recognized in public. Check. Ran from said public. Check. Trashed a hotel room. Check. Played Red Rocks. Check. But when they’ve done all of the rockstar things, there’s only one left to do. Go country.

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Whether it’s been a brief toe-dip or a full-fledged foray, there have been a number of rockers who have unexpectedly taken a detour toward twang with sights set on Nashville. Here are seven of them.

1. Bret Michaels

When Poison frontman Bret Michaels ventured into country it was by way of his second solo album, Freedom of Sound, in 2005. For the release, he didn’t stray far from his hair metal origins, keeping the album to a country-rock sound and offering country-fied versions of Poison hits like “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and “Something to Believe In.” That same year, Michaels was featured as a judge on the country music competition show Nashville Star.

2. Cyndi Lauper

For the country curious like herself, new wave rocker Cyndi Lauper experimented with twang in 2016 when she released her collection of western and rockabilly covers. The aptly named Detour featured country classics, like “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “I Fall to Pieces,” as well as guest appearances from the genre’s greats, like Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, and Willie Nelson.

3. Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker is probably the best-known rocker-turned-country star. When the Hootie & the Blowfish frontman, originally of ’90s college rock fame, dove into country in 2008, few realized then that it would be for good. He has since been a mainstay in the genre.

4. Tina Turner

For gritty blues rocker and R&B torchbearer Tina Turner, her voyage into the realm of country would be brief, but significant. Her debut as a solo artist was the soul-flecked country-folk album, Tina Turns the Country On! Consisting of mostly country covers, the album would further cement Turner’s abilities as one of music’s most versatile performers.

5. Van Morrison

Van Morrison has long been lauded for his ability to reinvent himself. From his beginnings in the humble garage rock outfit Them to his most recent foray into skiffle rock, the artist has dipped his toe into jazz, soul, blues, and more along the way. With his 2006 album, Pay the Devil, he showed fans his country side.

6. Bon Jovi

Along with rocker Jon Bon Jovi, his entire eponymous band of ’80s arena rock fame joined their frontman in his country pursuits that resulted in Lost Highway in 2007. The album housed a number of country-rock successes, seeing the help of country hitmakers LeAnn Rimes, Big & Rich, and Jennifer Nettles along the way.

7. Steven Tyler

Aerosmith’s leading man Steven Tyler launched his solo career on the wings of country music, releasing his solo debut, We’re All Somebody from Somewhere, in 2016. Overall, the country-rock album, which saw a number of Tyler-penned originals get a boost from the Nashville songwriting community, received above-average reviews and garnered the rockstar some country cred.

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