Two and half years after forming Rascal Flatts, fans clamored to see Jay DeMarcus and his bandmates perform. But fame couldn’t stave off the bassist’s panic attacks or loneliness.
In his new faith-based memoir, DeMarcus, now 48, reveals he was struggling so much that he prayed that God would bring him a life partner — but when he met his future wife, Allison Alderson, she was engaged to another man.
“‘God, I’m in Rascal Flatts. I’ve got all this … this … stuff that you’ve given me, this crazy life. But I’ve got nobody to share it with,’” DeMarcus remembers praying one night in his home in Nashville when he couldn’t sleep, according to his book, Shotgun Angels: My Story of Broken Roads and Unshakeable Hope, out now. “I’d just turned 30, and the realization that I was alone was hitting me hard.”
He continues: “I went to sleep and woke up with all that weight and anxiety on me. And little did I know, the very next day I would meet the girl who would become the mother of my children.”
But theirs wasn’t a fairytale beginning.
DeMarcus writes that he experienced a panic attack that was so severe he took himself to the hospital, thinking it was a heart attack. The next morning, he dragged himself to a video shoot for “These Days.” On set DeMarcus met Alderson, a former Miss Tennessee and CMT personality, who was there to participate in the shoot and was “very guarded.”
“‘I’ll be honest, I’m not really familiar with your music,’” DeMarcus remembers Alderson saying to him, per the book.
“‘But I’ve heard your first single, ‘Waiting for Midnight,’ right?’” she continued.
“‘Actually,’” the artist responded, “‘it’s ‘Praying for Daylight.’ I see you’re a really big fan, huh?’”
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Despite their initial interaction, DeMarcus writes that he was fascinated with Alderson.
“She was easy to talk to, had a warm and inviting smile, and made a very long day easier just by being there,” he writes.
Then Alderson told DeMarcus that she was engaged. The news “sucked the wind out of my sails,” he admits.
But DeMarcus persisted.
He came up with an idea to have Alderson stand behind a chain-link fence in the pouring rain, watching as the band got on the plane. According to Shotgun Angels, the director loved the idea and they ended up shooting until 3 a.m. — all so DeMarcus could have more time with his new crush.
Unfortunately for DeMarcus, when he called Alderson after the shoot, she never called him back.
Weeks later, they ran into each other again at a restaurant. This time, after many persistent phone calls from DeMarcus, Alderson agreed to meet him for lunch.
“‘I’ll go to lunch with you,’” she told him, per the book, “‘but that’s it. And then you have to leave me alone. I’m getting married in four months, and, well, you just have to leave me alone.’”
Their date lasted for five and a half hours and, at the end of it, he explains, “I felt like I’d known Allison my entire life.”
Alderson struggled to determine how to best handle the situation, but eventually followed her heart. She called off her upcoming wedding with her father’s complete support, according to the book.
She asked DeMarcus for space so she could “sort out” her life. A week later, she asked him to dinner and they decided to give it a shot.
“We’ve never been apart since,” DeMarcus writes.
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In 2004, he married Alderson, with whom he shares daughter, Madeline, 8, and son, Dylan, 6. They’re busy raising their family in Nashville, Tennessee, and DeMarcus’ Christian faith continues to be a guiding force in his life and that of his family.
As much as DeMarcus is steady in his faith now, it wasn’t always that easy. In Shotgun Angels, the artist also writes about his humble beginnings in Ohio and the many challenges he faced while pursuing his dream, before he made it big. For DeMarcus, the main lesson he’s learned in life is the power of hope.
“I’m really looking forward to sharing a pretty personal look at my path so far, as that isn’t something I’ve done yet,” DeMarcus said in a statement when he first announced the book, according to Billboard. “In Shotgun Angels, readers will hear never-before-told stories and get a glimpse into what it was like for me coming from Columbus, Ohio, and my journey to Nashville. My ultimate goal is that the book will encourage people that no matter where they are in their lives, they can find hope, comfort and strength in their faith.”
Shotgun Angels is on shelves now.
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