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Diamond Rio

Diamond Rio

Country group

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

In the spring of 1991 Diamond Rio managed the rare feat of reaching the number one position on Billboard magazines country charts with its very first single, Meet in the Middle. Since then country radio and record buyers have taken enthusiastically to the groups catchy melodies, perfectly executed three-part harmony singing, and first-rate instrumental workso smooth that it virtually conceals the formidable skills of the individual players. The group exemplifies the solid, versatile professionalism that contributed to country musics burgeoning national success in the early 1990s. The groups two Academy of Country Music awards, five Country Music Association awards, and eight Grammy Award nominations have helped Diamond Rio earn popular and critical success as well as a top spot among todays country vocal groups.

Country America magazine called the groups eponymous first album dazzling in its display of instrumental proficiency and exhilarating in its fusion of honky-tonk, bluegrass, mainstream country and other musical influences. Indeed, Diamond Rio made the mix seem effortless. But putting it together required many years of work on the lower rungs of the Nashville music ladder, not to mention six musicians of very different

For the Record

Members include Gene Johnson (born in Sugar Grove, PA), mandolin, vocals; Jimmy Olander (born in Palos Verdes, CA), guitar; Brian Prout (born in Troy, NY), drums; Marty Roe (born in Lebanon, OH), vocals; Dan Truman (born in St. George, UT), keyboards; Dana Williams (born in Dayton, OH), bass, vocals.

As the Grizzly River Boys, then the Tennessee River Boys, band members played together at Opryland amusement park, Nashville, TN, 1984-89; band formed in Nashville, 1989; signed with Arista Records, 1990; released first album, Diamond Rio, 1991; released follow-up, Close to the Edge, 1994; released Love a Little Stronger, 1994; released IV, 1996; released Unbelievable, 1998; released sixth studio album, One More Day, 2001.

Awards: Named best group in Radio and Records readers poll, 1991-92; Top Vocal Group, Academy of Country Music, 1991-92; Vocal Group of the Year, Country Music Association, 1992-94, 1997; Album of the Year, Country Music Association, 1994.

Member: Grand Ole Opry, 1998.

Addresses: Record company Arista Records, 7 Music Circle N., Nashville, TN 37203. Booking William Morris Agency, 2100 West End Ave. #1000, Nashville, TN 37203, (615) 963-3000. Website Diamond Rio Official Website: http://www.diamondrio.com.

backgrounds who shared the ability to listen to each other and appreciate each others varied skills.

During the classic period of country music, its practitioners were mostly small-town Southerners. But Nashville in the 1990s attracted musicians from all over the United States, many with experience in playing other sorts of music besides country. Diamond Rio lead singer Marty Roe was raised on traditional country music in small-town southern Ohio, while drummer Brian Prout started out playing rock in Troy, New York. Keyboardist Dan Truman studied jazz and classical piano in Utah. Bassist Dana Williams, mandolinist Gene Johnson, and guitarist Jimmy Olander cut their teeth on country and bluegrass. But all shared a desire to rise above the pack. Recalling his lean years on the bluegrass circuit, Johnson told Robyn Flans of Country Fever, I wasnt making enough to raise a family. But I couldnt quit. I knew I shouldnt be doing this. But I had to. It was like a drug.

Diamond Rio had its beginnings as the Grizzly River Boys, a band employed at Nashvilles Opryland a-musement park. Vocalist Roe was a member from the early 1980s on, but the current lineup didnt come together until 1989, by which time the groups name had been changed to the Tennessee River Boys. At first, noted Bob Allen of Country Music, the band was hampered by [its] sheer versatility: they could more or less play absolutely anything. Gradually, though, the band members began to size up each others strengths and work out the distinctive layers of vocal harmony and instrumental detail that would become the groups trademark.

Longtime Restless Heart producer Tim DuBois heard the groups demo tapes and then saw them open for George Jones in concert. He was so impressed that he signed them to Arista Records on the spot, sealing the deal with a handshake. Arista executives asked the group to come up with a more modern-sounding name; they finally settled on Diamond Rio, taking the name from a member of the truck model line that had previously inspired the name of the rock group REO Speed-wagon. Roe misspelled Reo as Rio, but decided to make a virtue out of his mistake. I like it like that. It has a country-Southwestern flavor, he told the Chicago Tribunes Jack Hurst.

Diamond Rios first album was released early in 1991 and notched both critical and popular successes. Its debut single reached the top of the charts, and three follow-ups, Mirror, Mirror, Norma Jean Riley, and Nowhere Bound, quickly ascended into the top five. Vocally and musically the band was at the height of its powers, but also propelling the recordings sales was the singular quality of its songs, several of which blended infectious pop fun with an earnest moral stance (which fit beautifully with the groups gospel-style harmonies) in a manner reminiscent of the Oak Ridge Boys. Meet in the Middle and, especially, Nowhere Bound were serious songs affirming the value of romantic conciliation, but each was enlivened by the bands toe-tapping instrumental mix.

Not long before the albums release, though, the band had been reduced to rehearsing in Prouts garage, using a clothes dryer for heat. Their sudden success intensified their touring schedule to a torrid pace of 300 concerts in 22 months. [Anybody] whos never been through this can never understand the work load that comes with it, Roe told Country Music. Also unfamiliar to the hardworking band were the teenage groupies who began to mimic their styles of dress.

Would Diamond Rio ascend to the level of popularity at which fans begin to name their children after band members, as Marty Roes parents were inspired to by the late Marty Robbins? That question seemed in the balance as the group released its second album, Close to the Edge, in the fall of 1992. The first record had generated a juggernaut of praise for the band, which ended up garnering awards from the Country Music Association for Vocal Group of the Year in 1992, as well as the Academy of Country Musics Top Vocal Group award in both 1991 and 1992. Diamond Rio even attracted favorable attention from the alternative-rock-oriented magazine Spin. But the trend toward groups in country music, initiated and continually stimulated by the success of the legendary act Alabama, meant a host of strong competitors for Diamond Rio, which by late 1993 had failed to repeat the daunting success of its initial record.

Close to the Edge nonetheless spawned three singlesIn a Week or Two, Oh Me, Oh My, Sweet Baby, and This Romeo Aint Got Julie Yetthat cracked the top levels of the country charts. These titles alone reveal Diamond Rios dependence on what pop songwriters call the hookshort, vivid chorus fragments that embed themselves in the listeners memory. The groups instrumental and vocal strength remained undiminished. Country Music referred admiringly to Diamond Rios harmony singing, in which the closely bunched voices stay in tight formation like sky-show airplanes. The albums critical reception on the whole, however, was mixed. The Music City News praised the groups knack for picking commercial, but appealing songs, opining, Diamond Rio clearly shows a new country supergroup has arrived. But Country Music went on to pan most of the songwriting on the albumsupplied largely by hired tunesmithsand pronounced the set a fairly conventional outing in these days of [country superstar] Garth [Brooks]. The singles from Close to the Edge continued as fixtures of country radio for most of 1993, but the album stalled at number 24 on Billboards country album chart.

The mid- and late 1990s saw Diamond Rio release four additional studio albums and a greatest hits compilation, as well as receive induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 1998. Love a Little Stronger, released in 1994, featured instrumentals more prominently, and IV, released in 1996, demonstrated the groups versatile country sounds. Greatest Hits was released in 1997, followed by Unbelievable in 1998. All Music Guide writer Thorn Owens gave the album a positive review, saying that Diamond Rio have a better, more memorable set of songs that makes [Unbelievable] their best album in a long time. Diamond Rios 2001 release, One More Day, earned the group a number one position on Billboards Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart with the title track, but stylistic missteps caused mixed reviews by critics.

Whether a critical success or not, the group maintains an inspiring work ethic. Were not full of good rehab stories. Weve got a super work ethic, and people with high work ethics tend to have careers that seem to be relentless, Olander is quoted in a Diamond Rio biography at Country.com. Roe added, I feel good about our sound, about what weve become and about what we can do to a song. But when it comes to choosing material, learning how to work in the studio efficiently and just doing what we do, weve just started to come into our own. I feel like weve just hit our stride.

Selected discography

Diamond Rio, Arista, 1991.

Close to the Edge, Arista, 1992.

Love a Little Stronger, Arista, 1994.

IV, Arista, 1996.

Greatest Hits, Arista, 1997.

Unbelievable, Arista, 1998.

One More Day, Arista, 2001.

Sources

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune, May 26, 1991.

Country America, March 1993.

Country Fever, October 1993.

Country Music, January/February 1993; May/June 1993.

Guitar Player, January 1994.

Music Row, March 8, 1993.

Spin, October 1992.

Tennessean (Nashville), April 3, 1993.

Online

Diamond Rio, All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (October 11, 2001).

Diamond Rio, Country.com, http://www.country.com (October 11, 2001).

Additional information obtained from International Artist Management, 1993.

James M. Manheim

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"Diamond Rio." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Diamond Rio." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/diamond-rio

"Diamond Rio." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/diamond-rio

Rio, Diamond

Diamond Rio

Country band

For the Record

Opryland Beginnings

Popularity Meant Grueling Road Time

Follow-up Received Mixed Reviews

Selected discography

Sources

In the spring of 1991 Diamond Rio managed the rare feat of reaching the Number One position on Billboard magazines country charts with its very first single, Meet in the Middle. Since then country radio and record buyers have taken enthusiastically to the groups catchy melodies, perfectly executed three-part harmony singing, and first-rate instrumental workso smooth that it virtually conceals the formidable skills of the individual players. The group exemplifies the solid, versatile professionalism that contributed to country musics burgeoning national success in the early 1990s.

Country America magazine called the groups eponymous first album dazzling in its display of instrumental proficiency and exhilarating in its fusion of honky-tonk, bluegrass, mainstream country and other musical influences. Indeed, Diamond Rio made the mix seem effortless. But putting it together required many years of work on the lower rungs of the Nashville music laddernot to mention six musicians of very different back-

For the Record

Members include Gene Johnson (born in Sugar Grove, PA), mandolin, vocals; Jimmy Olander (born in Palos Verdes, CA), guitar; Brian Prout (born in Troy, NY), drums; Marty Roe (born in Lebanon, OH), vocals; Dan Truman (born in St. George, UT), keyboards; and Dana Williams (born in Dayton, OH), bass, vocals.

As the Grizzly River Boys, then the Tennessee River Boys, band members played together at Opryland amusement park, Nashville, TN, 1984-89; band formed in Nashville, 1989; signed with Arista Records, 1990, and released first album, Diamond Rio, 1991.

Awards: Named top vocal group by Academy of Country Music, 1991 and 1992; named vocal group of the year by Country Music Association, 1992; named best group in Radio and Records readers poll, 1991 and 1992; two Grammy Award nominations; platinum album for Diamond Rio, 1993, and gold album for Close to the Edge, 1994.

Addresses: Record company Arista Records, 7 Music Circle N., Nashville, TN 37203; Management International Artist Management, P.O. Box 120261, Nashville, TN 37212; Booking agent William Morris Agency, 2325 Crestmoor Rd., Nashville, TN 37215; Publicist PLA Media, 1303 16th Avenue S., Nashville, TN 37212.

grounds who shared the ability to listen to each other and appreciate each others varied skills.

During the classic period of country music its practitioners were mostly small-town southerners. But Nashville in the 1990s attracted musicians from all over the United States, many with experience in playing other sorts of music besides country. Diamond Rio lead singer Marty Roe was raised on traditional country music in small-town southern Ohio, while drummer Brian Prout started out playing rock in Troy, New York. Keyboardist Dan Truman studied jazz and classical piano in Utah. Bassist Dana Williams, mandolinist Gene Johnson, and guitarist Jimmy Olander cut their teeth on country and bluegrass. But all shared a desire to rise above the pack. Recalling his lean years on the blue-grass circuit, Johnson told Robyn Flans of Country Fever, I... wasnt making enough to raise a family. But I couldnt quit. I knew I shouldnt be doing this. But I had to. It was like a drug.

Opryland Beginnings

Diamond Rio had its beginnings as the Grizzly River Boys, a band employed at Nashvilles Opryland amusement park. Vocalist Roe was a member from the early 1980s on, but the current lineup didnt come together until 1989, by which time the groups name had been changed to the Tennessee River Boys. At first, noted Bob Allen of Country Music, the band was hampered by [its] sheer versatility: they could more or less play absolutely anything. Gradually, though, the band members began to size up each others strengths and work out the distinctive layers of vocal harmony and instrumental detail that would become the groups trademark.

Longtime Restless Heart producer Tim DuBois heard the groups demo tapes and then saw them open for George Jones in concert. He was so impressed that he signed them to Arista Records on the spot, sealing the deal with a handshake. Arista executives asked the group to come up with a more modern-sounding name; they finally settled on Diamond Rio, taking the name from a member of the truck model line that had previously inspired the name of the rock group REO Speedwagon. Roe misspelled Reo as Riobut decided to make a virtue out of his mistake. I like it like that. It has a country-Southwestern flavor, he told the Chicago Tribunes Jack Hurst.

Diamond Rios first album was released early in 1991 and notched both critical and popular successes. Its debut single reached the top of the charts, and three follow-ups, Mirror, Mirror, Norma Jean Riley, and Nowhere Bound, quickly ascended into the Top Five. Vocally and musically the band was at the height of its powers, but also propelling the recordings sales was the singular quality of its songs, several of which blended infectious pop fun with an earnest moral stance (which fit beautifully with the groups gospel-style harmonies) in a manner reminiscent of the Oak Ridge Boys. Meet in the Middle and, especially, Nowhere Bound were serious songs affirming the value of romantic conciliation, but each was enlivened by the bands toe-tapping instrumental mix.

Popularity Meant Grueling Road Time

Not long before the albums release, though, the band had been reduced to rehearsing in Prouts garage, using a clothes dryer for heat. Their sudden success intensified their touring schedule to a torrid pace of 300 concerts in 22 months. [Anybody] whos never been through this can never understand the work load that comes with it, Roe told Country Music. Also unfamiliar to the hardworking band were the teenage groupies who began to mimic their styles of dress.

Would Diamond Rio ascend to the level of popularity at which fans begin to name their children after band members, as Marty Roes parents were inspired to by the late Marty Robbins? That question seemed in the balance as the group released its second album, Close to the Edge, in the fall of 1992. The first record had generated a juggernaut of praise for the band, which ended up garnering awards from the Country Music Association for vocal group of the year in 1992, as well as the Academy of Country Musics top vocal group award in both 1991 and 1992. Diamond Rio even attracted favorable attention from the alternative-rock-oriented magazine Spin. But the trend toward groups in country music, initiated and continually stimulated by the success of the legendary act Alabama, meant a host of strong competitors for Diamond Rio, which by late 1993 had failed to repeat the daunting success of its initial record.

Follow-up Received Mixed Reviews

Close to the Edge nonetheless spawned three singlesIn a Week or Two, Oh Me, Oh My, Sweet Baby, and This Romeo Aint Got Julie Yetthat cracked the top levels of the country charts. These titles alone reveal Diamond Rios dependence on what pop songwriters call the hookshort, vivid chorus fragments that embed themselves in the listeners memory. The groups instrumental and vocal strength remained undiminished. Country Music referred admiringly to Diamond Rios harmony singing, in which the closely bunched voices stay in tight formation like sky-show airplanes. The albums critical reception on the whole, however, was mixed. The Music City News praised the groups knack for picking commercial, but appealing songs, opining, Diamond Rio clearly shows a new country supergroup has arrived. But Country Music went on to pan most of the songwriting on the albumsupplied largely by hired tunesmithsand pronounced the set a fairly conventional outing in these Days of [country superstar] Garth [Brooks].

The singles from Close to the Edge continued as fixtures of country radio for most of 1993, but the album stalled at Number 24 on Billboards country album chart. And though Diamond Rios future seemed bright enough at the end of the year, it also seemed to depend on whether or not the group could succeed in honing a unique message, a deeply-felt vision that it could convey to listeners. Among country groups, few besides Alabama, with its elaborately produced imaginings of the rural South, has really succeeded in doing that and in remaining at the top of country music for more than a year or two. Still, the skill and commitment revealed in Diamond Rios early career suggested the potential for an accomplishment of similar magnitude.

Selected discography

Diamond Rio (includes Meet in the Middle, Mirror, Mirror, Norma Jean Riley, and Nowhere Bound), Arista, 1991.

Close to the Edge (includes Oh Me, Oh My, Sweet Baby, In a Week or Two, and This Romeo Aint Got Julie Yet), Arista, 1992.

Sources

Chicago Tribune, May 26, 1991.

Country America, March 1993.

Country Fever, October 1993.

Country Music, January/February 1993; May/June 1993.

Guitar Player, January 1994.

Music Row, March 8, 1993.

Spin, October 1992.

Tennessean (Nashville), April 3, 1993.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from an International Artist Management press kit, 1993.

James M. Manheim

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Rio, Diamond." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Rio, Diamond." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rio-diamond

"Rio, Diamond." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rio-diamond