LITTLE ROCK — Finishing fourth in the fifth sounds like a losing outcome in a Hot Springs horse race, but it proved to be anything but for musician Chris Daughtry, who famously finished fourth on American Idol’s fifth season.
Daughtry, who went on to found a band that uses his last name, has stayed in the running, becoming the third most successful former Idol contestant, trailing only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
He’s now on the road, not exactly to break the spell of the TV show, even though he named his third CD, released in November, Break the Spell. Prior to starting the tour, Daughtry returned to American Idol, not to compete, but just to add his luster to the program.
“I’ve never turned down an opportunity to return,” says Daughtry from a rehearsal in El Paso, Texas. “I think I’ve gone back on the show four times. The other night, it was to do my latest single, ‘Outta My Head,’ which I co-wrote with Marti Frederiksen. He told Steven Tyler of Aerosmith that the song has a ‘Rag Doll’ feel to it, like old-school Aerosmith.”
With sales of 7 million or so albums so far, Daughtry promises that his 2012 tour will be a memorable one.
“It’ll be the biggest-looking production we’ve done, with a fantastic light show and other visuals,” he says. “We’ve been tweaking it over the last week, here in El Paso.”
Daughtry traces his rock inclinations to the time he saw the band Live when he was 16 or 17.
“That completely blew my mind,” he recalls. “Their songs sounded way better in concert, even though I loved their record, so I thought someday I could follow their lead.”
In November and December, Daughtry and the band did shows for American troops in Italy, Kuwait and Kurdistan. In 2008, Daughtry visited Uganda,where he saw “lots of eye-popping things, how they’re making progress in fighting malaria.”
The experience has led Daughtry to dedicate $1 from every concert ticket sold toMalaria No More, a humanitarian organization working to end malaria deaths in Africa by 2015.
Daughtry, a North Carolina native and resident, got his start in a high school band called Cadence, followed by Absent Element. In 2005, he auditioned for an early TV talent program, Rock Star: INXS, which did not choose him. He next began his climb through the American Idol structure, making it to the final four on May 10, 2006, when he was eliminated.
Rather than losing hope for his career, Daughtry weighed his options, which included an offer to become lead singer for the band Fuel. Not long after, he signed with RCA Records and put together his band.
He has released three albums: a self-titled debut in 2006, Leave This Town in 2009 and Break the Spell.
Besides his band, Daughtry has collaborated with members of Live, Fuel, 3 Doors Down, Matchbox Twenty, Shinedown, Three Days Grace, The Click Five, Lifehouse and Nickelback.
Daughtry’s band members are Josh Steely, lead guitar; Josh Paul, bass; Brian Craddock on guitar; and Robin Diaz on drums. Paul and Steely have been in Daughtry since its formation.
The show has a pair of opening acts - Safety Suit and Mike Sanchez.
Safety Suit got its start in Tulsa, under the name, Crew, in 2002, but changed its name and address, and is now based in Nashville, Tenn. Singer Doug Brown, bassist Jeremy Henshaw and drummer Tate Cunningham met while in college at Oral Roberts University. Guitarist Dave Garofalo joined later. The band released its debut album, Life Let to Go, in May 2008; its early singles, “Someone Like You” and “Stay” were successful, as were “Anywhere But Here,” “Something I Said” and “What If,” which were featured in episodes of TV shows.
The group’s second CD, These Times, came out two months ago, debuting at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart.
Sanchez has impressive credentials for an opening act, having started his career in 1984 leading a British blues and rockabilly group, the Big Town Playboys, accumulating connections along the way with Eric Clapton, Steve Gibbons ofSavoy Brown, Gary Brooker of Procol Harum and Amen Corner’s Andy Fairweather Low. Sanchez, a keyboardist, guitarist and singer, also worked with Jeff Beck before going solo for a time, then joined former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings.
From 2000 to 2004, Blues in Britain magazine named Sanchez “UK Keyboard Player of the Year” and in 2003, Sanchez produced the soundtrack for the film, I’ll Be There, which starred Charlotte Church. In December 2007, he was a member of Wyman’s band when it opened for a Led Zeppelin reunion concert.
: SafetySuit, Mike Sanchez
8 p.m. Wednesday, Robinson Center Music Hall, Broadway and West Markham Street, Little Rock
(800) 745-3000 ticketmaster.com
Style, Pages 27 on 03/27/2012