Few musicians set out to build a career covering the hits of a modern pop music artist.
Most want to have their own songs, their own kind of show. Sissonville’s Adam Tucker started out that way. But while trying to break into the country music business, people kept telling him he sounded like Tim McGraw.
Wednesday night, the West Virginia native turned Las Vegas-based tribute artist joins a group of professional tribute acts, all competing for the title of best cover band in America on E! Network’s “Clash of the Cover Bands.” The show premieres at 9:30 Wednesday night.
“We want people to have fun and hear some of their favorite songs performed by America’s best cover bands,” Tucker said.
Tucker didn’t start out a playing cover tunes. He didn’t start out as a musician. A little more than 20 years ago, he was a former high school and college athlete working on a teaching degree at West Virginia State University and driving a truck for FedEx.
Then in 2000, his best friend died suddenly.
“Life changed for me,” Tucker said.
The loss, he said, forced him to reevaluate what he was doing with his life and what he really wanted.
“What would make me happy?” Tucker asked himself.
He didn’t know the answer, but people had told him he could sing.
“I didn’t know anything about entertaining,” he said. “I’d never picked up a guitar or a microphone.”
But it took. He loved being on stage.
“I just knew that was where I was supposed to be,” Tucker said.
Within a couple of years, Tucker had formed a band. He played shows, built a following and went out on tour.
“I played every county fair and every honkytonk from here to Oklahoma,” he said.
For six years, he toured as an aspiring country artist. He took trips to Nashville, Tennessee, trying to land a record deal. Record producers would listen to him and say, “Man, you have to sing that differently. You sound just like Tim McGraw.”
Tucker wasn’t a stranger to McGraw’s music. McGraw has been one of the biggest names in country music over the past 30 years, and Tucker usually played a song or two from his discography as part of his set.
“I did it just for fun,” he said.
But people asked for it. They wanted more.
Eventually, Tucker said he really had to sit down and decide whether to keep doing what he’d been doing for six years or try again as a tribute artist.
“So, I thought, let’s go for it,” he said. “Let’s do the Tim McGraw thing and see what happens.”
Within six months, an entertainment producer found him and booked him as part of tribute show in Las Vegas.
“That show ran off and on for eight years,” Tucker said.
These days, Tucker lives in Las Vegas, but performs all over the country. He plays clubs, theaters, festivals and county fairs. He’s opened for country stars like Jason Aldean and Taylor Swift, and built a resume that brought him to the attention of the producers for “Clash of the Cover Bands.”
Tucker said he’s enjoyed with working on the show. Performing in front of cameras and judges wasn’t a problem — he’s at home on just about any stage, and playing has always been the best part of the job.
It’s been a good experience, he said.
“Everybody was warm and welcoming,” Tucker said. “I got some really good feedback. Overall, an A-plus experience.”