On 10th anniversary of ‘Chief,’ Eric Church shares the sentimental story behind the album’s name

Joe Pugliese

To commemorate this month’s 10th anniversary of his breakthrough album, Chief, Eric Church is reflecting on the personal meaning behind the title.  

Eric reveals that he earned the nickname “chief” while on tour. After frequently losing his contact lenses on stage, the singer started wearing sunglasses instead, accompanied by a hat to stop the sweat from pouring onto his face. Thus, the look on the album’s cover was born. 

“We got in bigger venues, I tried to adjust that, but people in the crowds would have on hats and sunglasses and wouldn’t let me adjust that, so it just became this thing naturally. So show time, it was my uniform,” he explains. “The band starting joking with me, when I put the hat and sunglasses on, they go ‘all right, it’s Chief time, Chief’s here.’ But I laughed about it, it was a joke.” 

But the nickname that started as a joke has sentimental value. Eric shares the nickname with his grandfather, who was the chief of police in his hometown of Granite Falls, North Carolina.

“My dad called him ‘Chief’ as his son-in-law, so it was very neat to me, that across generations, it became my nickname naturally and nobody knew about it being my grandpa’s nickname,” Eric continues. “So when it came time to title the record, because it felt live and because it was something I wanted to show this part of our live show, Chief was the right title from my point of view, but also because of my grandfather and what he meant to me.”

Released in July 2011, Chief features the #1 hits “Springsteen” and “Drink in My Hand.” It also was named Album of the Year at the CMA Awards and ACM Awards. 

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