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Rascal Flatts' Joe Don Rooney discusses Keith Anderson, Steve Gaines and other famed Ottawa County folks

by Brandy McDonnell Published: June 9, 2009

Joe Don Rooney (Associated Press photo)

Rascal Flatts Week continues here at BAM’s Blog, as the band, including guitarist Joe Don Rooney of Picher, will play a show Friday at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, OK. That venue is just three miles from Picher.

Rooney did a special conference call with Oklahoma and Missouri media last week to talk about the homecoming show, his family and his music. I’ll have much more from the interview and other information about the band in the coming days.

Among the topics of conversation last week with Rooney: Other famous folks from Ottawa County.

Keith Anderson

He grew up about 10 miles from another country music artist, Keith Anderson, who was raised in Miami. Rooney laughingly said he and the “I Still Miss You” singer-songwriter still live about 10 miles apart, only now in Nashville, Tenn.

“Hard work and perseverance sometimes really pays off in big ways, and Keith’s a great guy, what a sweetheart of a guy. I’ve known him for a lot of years obviously, and so proud for him, too, because he has worked very hard. You know, he lived down in Texas for many years and got to be friends with a lot of people in radio before he was even an artist in Nashville. And he worked his tail off and I’m so proud for him and his success.

“Every now and then, we get to run into each other and see each other and it’s great to be able to talk about all of this and to just catch up with him. Because he’s somebody who can absolutely relate to where I come from and where I’ve been, and I can do the same for him. It’s good to have that ’cause there’s … not too many people in Nashville … who can relate to me like that and vice versa. So, I’m really proud for him, he’s going to do well for a lot of years, no doubt about it.”

Steve Gaines solo album “One in the Sun”

One of Rooney’s musical influences as he took up the guitar as a teen was the late Steve Gaines, the Lynyrd Skynyrd axe man who grew up in Miami. Gaines and his sister Cassie, a backup singer for the band, died in the 1977 plane crash that also killed the band’s singer-songwriter Ronnie Van Zant.

“I had a hero that I never got to meet, obviously, but I learned so much about him named Steve Gaines. He and his sister Cassie grew up in Miami. And I started getting into Skynyrd obviously at a young age, and I had a friend who knew Steve pretty well and gave me a bunch of these - it was back when there were cassette tapes still - gave me a bunch of these cassette tapes of these recordings – some of you probably don’t remember that, cassette tapes (laughs) – … of his old band, Crawdad, that a lot of people don’t know about,” Rooney said.

“And man, I used to listen to these old club gig recordings, and man, I just remember his playability was so amazing. He could really stretch out and his singing was great, too, I mean, a lot of people don’t realize he was a fantastic singer. And I was real inspired by him at a really young age, and I still have those copies of those tapes and stuff. And now since then, my friend, I’ve run into several times the last 10 years, he’s given me all these CDs now, so I have it on CD, which is even better.”

Steve Owens (Photo by Steve Sisney/The Oklahoman Archives)

Rooney continued, “But yeah, people like that that come from that area are just fantastic. … There’s so many people that have come from that area that have done so well. Like (University of Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner) Steve Owens, jeez almighty. Wonderful talent. I’m proud to be an Okie, no doubt about it, and proud to be from that area.”


by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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