One of the biggest breakout artists of 2014 was Sturgill Simpson,whose brand of psychedelic-tinged, alt-country music earned him a recent Grammy nomination.
He made headlines this week for something different: busting up a fight in the crowd during a show in Kentucky. When two spectators got into a brawl in the front row, the singer actually brought his band to a halt right in the middle of a song. “”Everyone came to have a good time,” he admonished. “It doesn’t matter who started it; all that matters is that it’s over.”
The elusive star became somewhat of an overnight sensation after the release of his album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music last year, but the Kentucky native – whose comes from a family of coal miners – has been playing guitar since he was eight years old and toiling in the industry for some time.
Simpson did a stint in the Navy and worked at a Utah shipping yard, putting his musical ambitions on ice until his wife urged him to fully pursue them or else he’d regret it later. He told the Wall Street Journal in an interview last year how she bought a 12-track digital recorder, started recording his music and sending CDs to local radio stations, and began booking him gigs around town without telling him.
The pair moved to Nashville full time in 2010, where he started refining his signature sound and released a critically acclaimed album two years later, High Top Mountain, which he ended up releasing independently. As he told the Wall Street Journal, it was deemed “too country for the hipsters and too country for the pop-country labels.”
But both crowds embraced Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, which he ended up recording in less than a week at the cool cost of $4,000; it garnered praise from everyone from NPR to Rolling Stone Country. He’ll become one of the few artists to play both the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals this year.
The surprise Grammy nomination and current sold-out tour he’s currently on also helped change industry minds: two weeks ago, he signed a major label deal with Atlantic Records.