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In a year where country artists like Morgan Wallen and Jason Aldean have risen to the top of popular music charts, Oliver Anthony is the latest to follow the trend with the rapid success of his single, “Rich Men North of Richmond.”
Anthony’s unlikely hit—a polarizing protest song that, while popular among conservatives, has sparked controversy for its commentary on various political topics—topped the latest Billboard Hot 100 chart. Its emergence has thrust the relatively unknown Virginia artist into the spotlight, with the singer claiming he has since received a multimillion-dollar offer.
With Anthony clearly catching the attention of the music world, here’s everything you need to know about the country crooner and his big song.
His stage name is a tribute to his grandfather
Anthony’s legal name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford. In a Facebook post from August 17, the singer explained that Oliver Anthony was his grandfather’s name, and the musical moniker is a tribute to not only his ancestor but “1930s Appalachia where he was born and raised.” Although his friends and family still call him Chris, Anthony says he is content with fans referring to him by either name.
He dropped out of high school
In 2010, Anthony dropped out of high school when he was 17 years old, though he did earn a GED diploma. He worked at multiple plant jobs in western North Carolina, and during one shift in 2013, he fractured his skull in a fall. After that, he moved back home to Virginia.
Before his music took off in recent weeks, Anthony had worked as a salesman in industrial manufacturing since 2014.
He has struggled with mental health
Anthony revealed on Facebook he has battled mental health issues for the past five years and used alcohol “to drown it.” He describes himself as “not a good musician” and “not a very good person.”
“I am sad to see the world in the state it’s in, with everyone fighting with each other,” he wrote.
The Virginia resident lives frugally
On Facebook, the Farmville, Virginia, resident revealed he still owes about $60,000 on property he purchased and lives in a camper with a tarp on the roof he bought off Craigslist. However, now that Anthony is reportedly earning $40,000 per day, he should be able to pay off the debt rather easily.
He hates the internet
While the internet has undoubtedly helped “Rich Men North of Richmond” reach a wider audience, Anthony doesn’t mince words regarding its negative effects. “The Internet is a parasite that infects the minds of humans and has their way with them,” he wrote on Facebook. “Hours wasted, goals forgotten, loved ones sitting in houses with each other distracted all day by technology made by the hands of other poor souls in sweat shops in a foreign land.”
His chart performance is historic
“Rich Men North of Richmond” topped Luke Combs’ cover of “Fast Car” (written by Tracy Chapman) and Wallen’s anthem “Last Night” to lead the Billboard Hot 100, making history for Anthony (officially listed as Oliver Anthony Music). He became the first artist to have a No. 1 song without any prior chart history in any form.
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Anthony is finding traction on streaming services
As of August 23, “Rich Men” remained the most played song on Apple Music. Additionally, the song had garnered more than 20 million streams on Spotify. Five of Anthony’s other songs had a million or more streams, as well.
Singer John Rich is one of his high-profile fans
Anthony’s hit song has struck a chord with a number of notable names from politics and music, especially those that lean right politically. Singer John Rich, formerly of Lonestar, said he has offered to fully finance and produce an album for Anthony, while 2022 Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene have both praised the tune.
But for all the attention “Rich Men” has garnered among conservatives, Anthony said in a recent YouTube video he considers himself “dead center down the aisle” when it comes to politics. “I remember as a kid the conservatives wanting war and me not understanding that. And I remember a lot of the controversies when the left took office, and it seems like, you know, both sides serve the same master,” he said.
He doesn’t want stardom
Anthony claimed on Facebook he turned down a music offer worth $8 million off the success of “Rich Men,” and he insists he doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. “I don’t want 6 tour buses, 15 tractor trailers and a jet. I don’t want to play stadium shows,” he wrote. “I never wanted to be a full time musician, much less sit at the top of the iTunes charts.”
Anthony already has a new song
On Tuesday, Anthony released a video for his new single, “I Want to Go Home.” According to Billboard, he originally uploaded the song to TikTok in March. Similar to “Rich Men,” the song is a meditative look at issues confronting the United States, which for Anthony includes mental illness, fears of war, and urban sprawl. You can listen to the track on Spotify.
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