Clint Black has been racking up hit songs the way Clint Eastwood racks up the body count in his movies. Black's first two albums went double-platinum and his newly released third album, "The Hard Way," has sold nearly a million copies since its July release.
And, wahoo little darlin', Black and all those dimples will be stopping by the Santa Barbara County Bowl Tuesday night to vacillate the ventricles of the hearts of his female faithful.
Black started out on the right foot with an amazing five No. 1 singles off his debut disc, "Killin' Time." No one's ever done that before. That's like finding a dollar, buying a lottery ticket and winning a zillion bucks.
After picking up a wagonload of country music awards, Black's second album had two more No. 1 songs. But success didn't stop there. He then married his No. 1 fan, Lisa Hartman of "Knot's Landing" fame, and got to make a make a video with "The King of the Cowboys," Roy Rogers.
In a recent phone conversation from New York, Black commented on the story so far:
How's the tour going?
It's going south. It's also going great. My business guys tell me that ticket sales are up 47% from last year, which is pretty amazing considering the economy. I play five nights a week and take Monday and Thursday off.
How's "The Hard Way" doing?
It's almost platinum. It's right at 950,000 now. It's doing better than the second one did in a compatible time frame.
Your bio says your current tour consists of a quarter-million dollar set, 52 roadies and all sorts of stuff. It sounds like a Pink Floyd tour.
Yeah, really. I didn't realize what I was getting into. I thought I'd take the money and put it into the show so the audience would think the money was well spent. I just didn't realize how much of their money it would be.
Now for something really important. How 'bout those Oilers?
How 'bout those Oilers? I gave up on trying to keep up with them three years ago. I'm always on the road. I read the itinerary. I can tell you where I'm going and where I've been. I've been on the road since 1989.
So now you know where all the junk food is?
I know where to avoid it. This is "The No-Fat Tour." It seems like every month, someone would go down with food poisoning. It's salmonella, mostly. If you eat a hot dog at Stop N' Go,you're taking your chances.
Who can drink the most beer, a country singer or a heavy metal dude?
From what I hear, the heavy metal dudes.
How did you get started in all this?
My brother Kevin had a little band and I joined as a bass player. It didn't take me long to realize I wanted to be in this business. By the time I was 18 or 19, I was making a living playing in bars. I was a soloist, just playing my guitar and a harmonica until 1989. I started writing songs with Hayden Nicholas, and then I got signed to RCA in Nashville.
If not for music, what would you be doing?
I knew when I was 17 that I wanted to do this. Otherwise, I would've joined the Air Force and got into the space program.
How do you account for the success of "Killing Time"?
Great record label, great support, and of course, I believe in my music. The climate was just right. Country radio was coming around. It was just great timing.
I know you're happily married and I don't want to mess you up, but do you have trouble with groupies?
Well, there's been some lingerie on stage. I don't deal with them, but I don't know about the road crew.
How has your music changed in the past few years?
I wouldn't say it's changed. The level of performance has changed. I've had the experience of the last two albums to learn from, and I co-produced the third one, so I think I'm just getting better at what I do.
How would you describe Clint Black music?
Traditional country music.
In the old Westerns at the end, the hero got the girl, then rode off into the sunset and lived happily ever after. There doesn't seem to be any "happily ever after" in country songs. Why is that?
Because country music is about real life. I try and write things that are realities, characters we can relate to. There is no "happily ever after." There's always something. Somewhere down the road, you're gonna have a flat tire, the company's gonna go broke or the bank's gonna foreclose on the house.
Do you write on the road?
I try not to write on the road, but sometimes something just pops out and you can't control it. When I get off this tour, I'm going to block out some time to write with Hayden. We've had a lot of success together.
What's the worst thing about being on the road so much?
There's not too many worst things, so that's the best thing. Also, there's a billion good things, so that's the best thing, too. I do miss my family and friends, although I've made a lot of new friends. Even when I come off the road and I can't wait to lie on the couch, Bob Hope calls. There's always something that you can't refuse.
What was it like hanging out with "The King of the Cowboys," Roy Rogers?
It was really cool. He's a great guy, full of anecdotes. I get excited every time I think about him. It was just really special being in the video with him, just a really special time.
Did you used to watch his show?
No, I fell in between. I was in the "Gunsmoke" time. I just love Westerns. "Lonesome Dove" is my favorite. I just bought the video. I think it really gave you an idea of the attitudes back then.
If you could change anything about your career, what would it be?
I'd probably change the Congress.
I'll be touring until March. I'll be doing some TV appearances--Arsenio on the 24th, then a segment with Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah and Maury Povich. Then I might go to England and we're talking about Japan and Australia.
* WHERE AND WHEN
Clint Black, Aaron Tippin, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. at the Santa Barbara County Bowl, 1122 Milpas St. Tickets, all that are left, are $16.50. For more information, call 966-7566.