Eric Heatherly - Swimming In Champagne

Eric Heatherly - Swimming In Champagne


The late-night denizens of Nashville's Lower Broadway honky-tonk district already know these songs by heart. When Eric Heatherly blasts into "She's So Hot," "Swimming In Champagne" or "I Just Break 'Em" they sing along with every word.


ric Heatherly has exceeded everyone’s expectations…everyone’s except his own. According to his father, Earl, at age five, the Chattanooga, Tennessee native could listen to a vinyl record only once and instantly play the song back on guitar. Thanks to his truck driving dad, Heatherly’s first guitar was an old acoustic Earl rescued from a garbage bin during one of his delivery routes. The first song he learned from his music loving father was "Folsom Prison Blues," by Johnny Cash. Heatherly fondly states, "I’ve still got that old guitar. It was so hard to play…my fingers would honestly swell up and bleed. The strings were like a fourth of an inch up off the neck! Looking back, I think it was a good thing that I learned to play on that instrument because it strengthened my fingers and primed me for playing the electric guitar."

Growing up on the Tennessee/Georgia line, he would mow yards all summer long to be able to get a new guitar or amplifier. He would sit on the banks of the Chickamauga Creek, within walking distance from his home, to daydream and write down the lyrics he started in school each day. Heatherly recollects memories of listening to the train rollin’ by at night, and with the longing of a traveling gypsy, wanting to be on the road with just his guitar on his back. His mother, Nola, remembers, "Even as a tiny child, Eric’s self-discipline and focus on his music amazed me and everyone that witnessed it. Everyday, Eric would jump off the bus after school, run straight to his bedroom, and lock himself in there to practice. Maybe he would join his friends to play afterwards, but often we had to make him come out just for dinner." It was Heatherly’s unwavering passion for the guitar that led him to a full music scholarship at Chattanooga State. However, his college experience lasted only a year. The road was still calling. He had a dream to realize.

The guitar slinger was an instant hard sell to Music Row industry veterans from the time he pulled his two-toned ’55 Chevy into Music City in 1991. Timing could not have been worse for the edgy, electrified, twenty-one year old singer/songwriter. As Heatherly recalls, "Here I was in Nashville…the home of Steve Earle, Foster & Lloyd, Ricky Skaggs, Lee Roy Parnell…guys that inspired me to make the move and take the chance, and all the sudden, if you didn’t wear a big twelve gallon cowboy hat and starched jeans with boots the execs wouldn’t even think about signing you."

In the early nineties, every major label in Nashville was searching high and low for their own Garth Brooks. Heatherly decided to stay true to himself and remain the artist he had envisioned on stage since the tender age of five. "I’ll never forget," says Heatherly, "I was in this big producer’s office one day, my heart pounding with excitement wondering if this could be my shot and he put my demo tape in, listened to about half a song with his back to me in his towering black leather chair, swung around looked me in the eye and said, ‘I can make you a STAR in six months if you’ll put on a hat and boots!’ I actually thought he was joking…I responded, I’m playing at Jack’s Guitar Bar this Friday night…what you see is what you’ll get!"

Heatherly knows a thing or two about living on the east side of life. He would spend the next six long and grueling years waiting his turn at the majors. He played every juke joint and dive that would let him plug in and play, usually just for tips. It was on his way to one of those clubs in Marion, Illinois that he nearly lost his life due to an auto accident. His drummer fell asleep at the wheel sending him and band mates rolling over at sixty-five miles an hour, finally landing upside down on the shoulder of the highway. His prized ’87 Bahama green Fender Strat landed in the median about a hundred yards from the wreckage. When Heatherly finally crawled out from the demolished Chevy Suburban, he ran to his workhorse guitar, pulled it out of the splintered hard shell case and strummed a chord expecting the worst. "I could not believe my ears," Heatherly says, "My hands were all bloody and I was dizzy and dazed but my Strat comforted me when I strummed that G chord and she still played in tune! I’ll keep her ’til the day I die." Heatherly credits God for saving his and his friends’ lives and believes they survived for a purpose. Heatherly limped back home to his apartment in Antioch, just south of Nashville, and tried to put the wreck behind him. In between gigs, he paid his rent by parking cars at the Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville and painting apartments and houses on the weekends.

For a while, Heatherly was somewhat of an outcast on lower Broadway. The clubs were used to tried and true covers of standards and traditionally dressed troubadours. They didn’t know what to think of this hepcat with sideburns playing all original music with a three piece band dressed in thrift store bowling shirts or old ties and vests and two-toned winged ti


Lower East Side of Life
1. Way Down
2. Judging Beauty
3. Hang it on Your Heart
4. Job
5. Ruin
6. Whatever Happened...
7. The Lower East Side of Life
8. Who Needs Enemies (with a Family Like You)
9. Dark Days
10. Hide
11. Love Story Love

Swimming In Champagne
1. Someone Else's Cadillac
2. I Just Break'em
3. Didn't Mean a Thing
4. One Night
5. Why Don'tCha
6. Flowers on the Wall
7. Let Me
8. Swimming in Champagne
9. Wrong Five O'Clock
10. Freedom Chain
11. She's So Hot

Flowers On The Wall
1. Flowers On The Wall
2. Someone Else's Cadillac