Rory Lee Feek is an American country singer and songwriter who shot to fame writing songs for many popular artists and later entering into collaboration with his wife Joey Feek to form a duo, which was known as ‘Joey+Rory’. Rory was deeply inspired from Don Williams, whom he considered a hero. He started playing guitar at the age of 15. He loved music and moved to Texas for better career opportunities. Rory started his singing career in nightclubs as most country singers do. His first tryst with wider fame as a singer came following his success on a music talent hunt show ‘Can you Duet’, in which he was paired with Joey. One of his very first collaborations as songwriter was with Collin Raye, for whom he wrote ‘Someone you used to Know’ and the single went big. Along with Joey, Rory embarked on creating country music successfully. In March 2016, Joey died of cervical cancer, which ended their musical journey.
Childhood & Early Life
According to information available on his blog, Rory Lee Feek was born on April 25, 1965, but many other sources claim that he was born in 1966. He was brought up in Kansas City, USA in a middle class American family, living in a calm environment away from the bustle of the big American cities.
Rory cites his upbringing in Kansas as one of the many reasons for his humble personality and he is always grateful for what the life has given him. As a kid, he listened to Merle Haggard and Don Williams, two of the most popular country singers.
Rory finished his early education from his home city and once he was out of high school, he did two years of duty for the United State Marine Corps, and although he liked what he did there, music never left him and he just knew that he was meant to do something else with his life and in order to follow his dreams, he moved to Dallas, Texas. It was the centre of country music in USA and in hopes of finding some talent agent or collaborations, Rory rented an apartment and started living there in the mid 90s.
As he needed to make the ends meet, he performed in the nightclubs and found out that many other likeminded talented musicians were doing the same. He even met some of the musicians who were old and had spent their entire lives being limited to Texas. This got Rory thinking and he promised himself to not have that life and when he met Rod Phelps, who was an attorney for Nashville Records, and one of the admirers of his talent, Rory’s career kick-started.
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Rory Lee Feek started his music career with song-writing, which was his other love apart from singing. Nashville records signed a contract with him and he started writing songs under the banner for singers like Collin Raye, for whom he wrote ‘Someone you used to Know’. The song was a big hit and went on to become one of the top rated country songs of 1999 and although most of the credit went to Collin Raye, Rory did gain a lot of confidence and became more sure headed about his career in music. The publishing contract he signed with the banner enabled him to write a few more songs.
One such song was with Clay Walker titled ‘The Chain of Love’, which reached to top five spot in many music charts and Rory sort of became a star in his own right. In the early 2000s, Feek continued his song-writing career with many big musicians such as Mark Wills, Terry Clark and Randy Davis and slowly started gaining recognition among the music lovers. Tracy Bird’s single in the year 2003 titled ‘The Truth about Men’ was written by Rory and became one of the biggest country hits of that year. The fame started drifting his way quickly and Rory found himself to be more comfortable with writing songs.
Another smashing hit which came out of his pen was ‘Some Beach’, written for Blake Shelton along with Paul Overstreet in 2004. It was the first song of his career to top the charts and riding high with success, Feek started his very own label titled Giantslayer Records, in order to support the budding talents in the dying country music genre. It was through his record label that Blain Larsen became famous and went on to become a highly successful musician.
Rory and his wife Joey went on to participate in the talent show ‘Can you Duet’ after they formed a duo named Joey+Rory. The show was a big thing and there was no chance that a success there wouldn’t translate into some great record deals. And that is what happened; they ended up being in the third spot in the finale of the show and subsequently signed a deal with Vanguard Records. It was 2008 and the duo started working on their very first album and planned to release it the same year.
In the late 2008s came their first single titled ‘Cheater, Cheater’ and quickly rose to the 30th spot in the country music charts, which was a massive feat considering it was just their first single together. Despite forming a group with his wife, Rory didn’t stop writing for other musicians; Jimmy Wayne asked him to co-write his single ‘I will’ with him, which when released, became a huge success.
Sugarhill Records released the duo’s first album ‘The life of a Song’ in late 2008, which went on to become a great success and the duo was nominated for Academy of Country Music Awards for their work. They then went on to win Top New Vocal Duo of the Year awards for the same.
The duo then went on to release their ‘Album Number 2’ in 2010, and attained bigger success with their second attempt. Rory and Joey both provided their vocals to the songs, while Rory also played the acoustic guitar. The couple produced some successful singles and their last and eighth album together came out in February 2016 and in the same year, the duo split, owing to the untimely death of Joey due to her long battle with cervical cancer.
Rory Lee Feek has married twice. His first marriage happened in 1985 with Tamara Gilmer and he had two daughters from his first marriage. A daughter named Heidi was born in 1986 and two years later, the couple had another baby girl named Hopie. The marriage wasn’t quite a happy one, and Rory divorced his wife in 1992.
Rory first saw Joey during one of his performances in Nashville, and it was love at first sight. Joey was a struggling singer and loved the raw talent that Rory possessed. She met his daughters the same night and thought Rory was married. They further started dating after Joey came to know about his single status and the couple got married in June 2002, and she gave birth to a baby girl named Indiana Boom in 2014.
Right after giving birth to her daughter, Joey was diagnosed with cancer. It was a massive blow to the family and after a long battle with the illness, Joey passed away on 4th March 2016. In interviews post her death, Rory revealed that not for a single second, did he thought that he was no more a married person even after her death. The documentary on the couple titled ‘This Life I live’ was released in February 2017 and Rory revealed how his wife’s death broke him mentally and how he is still recovering from the trauma of losing the only woman he ever loved.