There are certain names in country music that instantly appeal to audiences of all ages. One such name is John Michael Montgomery, who expanded his appeal with a string of hit singles and chart-topping albums throughout the '90s and into the new millennium. Here are five reasons why John Michael Montgomery is still as appealing to audiences today as he ever was:
1. Country Music Was in His Blood at an Early Age
John Michael Montgomery's affinity for country music started at an early age. Born in Danville, Kentucky in 1965, Montgomery learned to play guitar from his father, who was a local musician. Even his mother proved something of an inspiration, since she played the drums in his dad's band. Montgomery made his stage debut at the age of five in that band. Following his parents' divorce, he continued to play in his father's band, assuming the role of lead vocalist, along with his brother. He would later form a separate band with his brother called Early Tymz. After high school, he was discovered in Lexington while playing at various regional venues. Montgomery credits much of his success to the legacy of his parents and the fact that he never forgot his roots.
2. "I Swear" and "I Can Love You Like That" Are Still as Irresistible as Ever
John Michael Montgomery caught the attention of pop audiences in 1994 when the R&B-pop group All-4-One recorded a version of his 1993 hit "I Swear," which was the top country tune for that year, fueling the crossover success of Montgomery's Just Kickin' It album, which rose to the top spot on both the country chart and the Billboard 200. Incidentally, All-4-One would have the same success they had with their cover of "I Swear" when they covered Montgomery's "I Can Love You Like That," from his self-titled album, in 1995. Both of these hits, each offering reflections on love, are still as irresistible and relevant as ever. With infectious hooks, both songs still inspire fans of all ages to sing along every time the songs are performed during one of John's concerts.
3. He Helped Bring in a New Age of Country Music
While John Michael Montgomery's music has remained grounded in his country roots, he is often included as one of the '90s country music superstars who helped usher in a new age of country music, a goal he achieved without abandoning his honky-tonk roots. His particular blend of music included tunes with crossover appeal along with songs truly from the heart, a long-term tradition since the early days of country music. Montgomery was fortune to be a part of the country music explosion of the '90s (considered the starting point of the new age of country music that also saw the rise of superstars like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain) with hits like "If You've Got Love," "Friends" and "No Man's Land" appealing to fans around the world. Extensive touring during this period further solidified the connection he still shares with his audiences today.
4. His Influence Can Be Heard All Over Country Radio Today
John Michael Montgomery's influence can be heard all over country radio today with songs that include the same elements found in many of his biggest hits, with examples including "She's Everything" by Brad Paisley and "Only You Can Love Me This Way" by Keith Urban, two hits that echo his style of combining heartfelt lyrics with an instantly appealing melody. He has also helped inspire many other artists, including Jessica Simpson, who cited Montgomery as an influence when she made her transitions from pop to country.
5. His Songs Still Connect with Audiences
While John Michael Montgomery has racked up some impressive stats (nearly 20 million albums sold, 15 number ones and countless awards), he still has a unique ability to connect with audiences through his songs. A prime example of this is Montgomery's 2004 hit "Letters From Home," a touching tribute to soldiers and their loved ones back home. His sense of whimsy along with his ability to place his observations on love, family and life into his music is on display in hits like "Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)" and "The Little Girl." While Mr. Montgomery may not make such comparisons due to his humble nature, it's fair to say that many of his tunes are just as timeless as iconic hits like "Jolene," "The Gambler" and "Rhinestone Cowboy."