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Top Groups/Duos: #46 – McBride and the Ride

March 31, 2009

McBride & the Ride (L-R: Billy Thomas, Terry McBride, Ray Herndon)

Members:Terry McBride (lead vocals, bass guitar), Ray Herndon (background vocals, guitar, Dobro) and Billy Thomas (background vocals, drums, percussion).

Although they weren’t always the most prominent presence on the charts, McBride and the Ride have made their mark on the transformation and progression of country music in their own rights. For one this bad was the start of a long line of middle ranking country groups who have formed and made their mark in an attempt to compete with the best. In fact Tony Brown, a famed record producer and former Executive VP for MCA, signed the band in an attempt to compete with Alabama in the 90’s.

The band was formed completely from scratch by Brown who took guitarist Ray herndon, at the time a backer for Lyle Lovett, and introduced him to the little known singer Terry McBride and advertised his idea for the two to try and make it big. Drummer Billy Thomos would join the two to complete the band when Brown introduced them at a fan fair in Tennessee. With that the band was ready to role and would perform their first concert as a group in Detroit.

However the band’s career was almost short lived as their first two singles were met with very disappointing results. MCA was considering dropping the makeshift act from their roster until their first top 40 hit “Can I Count On You” peaked at #15 and helped gain them a devoted cult following. With the success of this single came their debut album Burnin’ Up The Road in 1991, a project that peaked at a modest #27 on the charts, but produces several more top 30 hits. The minor success earned them a spot on tour with fellow groups the Judds and Highway 101 which increased their devoted, but often unheard throng of fans.

Their sophomore album Sacred Ground, released in 1992, would go on to bring them their biggest hit, the title track which peaked at #2. The album also produced two more top 5 hits despite an equally modest result in sales as their first project. Their chart success and fan base earned them New group/Duo nominations for both the CMA and ACM Awards, although they lost out in both occasions.

The band hit a hard spot in 1994 when MCA decided to focus towards McBride as their star figure. This caused Herndon and Thomas to disband and be replaced by a full backing band composed of Randy Frazier (guitar), Keith Edwards (drums), Kenny Vaughn (guitar), Gary Morse (steel guitar), and Jeff Roach (keyboards). McBride, in turn, bought into this praise and bought the naming rights to re-name his new band Terry McBride and the Ride with a new image and a new sound.

Despite this change of image the new band was short lived, breaking up after a moderately successful self titled album that same year. The band reunited breifly in 200 to record an album titled Amarillo Sky, the title track becoming popular years later by artist Jason Aldean. The band disbanded again not long after.

Terry McBride has managed to keep his career going after the breakup. He has become a popular and regular backing member of Brooks 7 Dunn’s road band and a largely successful song writer, including a partner writer with the duo for many of their hits.

So why, you may ask, did such a flop of a band make it on this list…well it was the trend they started that has made them one of the greatest, not the best, but one of the greatest. McBride and the Ride was the start to a long line of small bands like Little Big Town and the Zac Brown Band who have dared to bring their own style to the genre and try and compete with a seemingly unstoppable force that has evolved from Alabama to Rascal Flatts. McBride in the Ride was a band built from scratch who eventually bonded and, despite their breakup, have gone on to remain good friends and live successful secondary careers outside of the spotlight and well as being praised for the accomplishments the had while they were together.

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