Eddie Rabbitt Raises a New Crop of Fans In Branson (1995)

Eddie Rabbitt Raises a New Crop of Fans in Branson

Originally published in the July 18, 1995, issue of Country Weekly featuring Willie Nelson on the cover. This story is presented here in its entirety.

At age 5, Eddie Rabbitt told people he wanted to be a country singer. At age 53, the boy from East Orange, N.J., has a new album on the way, a new single and video from the film Gordy, and a flourishing professional schedule in Branson, Mo.

“It’s like a farmer. While you’re working one field, you’re plowing or seeding another,” the slim singer told COUNTRY WEEKLY backstage on his opening night in Branson. “You have to keep generating new business if you want to stay in business. As you have more new artists coming in the front door, a lot of artists get pushed out the back door. If they don’t look for opportunities to do their music, when they need to change venues or they may not have a place to go.”

Now, even after 3 million airplays, “I Love a Rainy Night” sounds fine at Glen Campbell’s Goodtime Theatre in Branson, where a rain curtain and sounds of thunder add drama to Eddie’s presentation. In Branson, Eddie’s fans see him perform from a selection of 17 No. 1 country hits, including “Every Which Way But Loose” and “Drivin’ My Life Away.” This is Eddie’s third year in Branson, a country getaway for both him and the fans.

“I get up, look at or read a little news, eat my Fiber One with strawberries and bananas, have a couple or three cups of coffee and my megavitamin, and then I run,” Eddie said. “Fresh air, trees, quietness—a good place to get a new perspective.”

He’s writing songs with Billy Dean and Robert Ellis Orrall for the new album, but it will retain the Eddie Rabbitt sound that netted him 20 BMI Awards, one triple-platinum album and two gold albums. “As I progress, my music changes,” he said. “My thoughts change. Like wine: a little older, a little finer.”

The new single, a duet with Crystal Gayle called “I Made a Promise to You,” recalls their work on 1982’s “You and I.” The song is featured in Gordy, a new movie shot partly in Branson whose title character is a pig.

Although his own career is on a roll, Eddie worries about newer country performers and about country music itself.

“Country music was a nice, small-market music when I got into it,” he said. “There was a lot of room for the art to grow, for songwriters to get better. Now you get these Hollywood people and New York people who really don’t understand country music. They just dig it for gold. People like me and Kris Kristofferson and Billy Swan spent a lot of time working in clubs, walking the streets, having hard times. Today they’re pulling these kids out and making stars of them. They squeeze a No. 1 hit out of them; if they don’t come up with another, it’s `Get outta here,’ and that’s too bad.”

Rabbitt limits himself to about 100 dates a year so he can spend time with his children. Each year, in memory of the 2-year-old son he lost a decade ago after a liver transplant, he helps charities raise money for youngsters. “I feel like if you have children, you ought to be with them,” he said. “And it’s a dance to keep up with monitoring what the kids are doing.”

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