No Place Like Home For John Michael Montgomery
John Michael Montgomery spent most of 1996 away from the concert trail and in the studio to concentrate on the recording sessions for his latest album, “What I Do the Best.” And after more than three years of constant touring, the 31-year-old country singer discovered how much he enjoyed family life at home on his 500-acre farm outside of Lexington, Ky.
“I didn’t realize how hard traveling could be until I took some time off,” Montgomery said. “From now on, the only reason I’ll continue to travel is so I can sing in front of the fans. I’ve had too many years of life on the road to want to continue to live that sort of life all the time anymore.”
Since he first began drawing national attention in 1993 with a string of hits, including the singles “I Can Love You Like That” and “I Swear,” Montgomery has had to cope with the stress of a hectic work schedule as well as the death of his father, Harold Montgomery, in 1994.
It was his father, also a country musician, who inspired Montgomery to pursue his career long after others gave up on him.
While Harold Montgomery never saw his own dreams of success in country music fulfilled, just prior to his death, he witnessed his son’s career skyrocket.
“My dad was a good country singer,” Montgomery said. “He always wondered why it never happened for him. He worked hard to be a star.”
As a teenager growing up in rural Garrard County, Kentucky, Montgomery accompanied his dad throughout the Appalachian countryside, playing in road houses and honky tonks. Even his mother, Carol, would join the performances on weekends.
Looking back, Montgomery remembers the times spent onstage with his parents as being magical. “The music was always there for us,” he recalls. “We grew up in a little old house with a tin roof and a wood-burning stove. There was water and electricity - when we paid the bill. We all looked forward for (country music) to one day turn into something, like it has for me. It was a dream that my father had that I eventually grabbed hold of. And it ended up coming true for me.”
Committed to developing as a country singer, Montgomery was reluctant to marry.
“When I turned 16,” he said, “I decided I wanted to play music for a living. I didn’t want to marry right away, because I was too devoted to my career to raise a family of my own. Even though my brother and sister and mom and dad - everybody in my family - had married at an early age, marriage for me just had to wait.”
It was after he signed his record deal and completed a whirlwind of touring and recording from 1993 to 1995 that Montgomery and Crystal fell in love. They married early last year and had their first child, daughter Madison Caroline, last August.
“I took the time off to get married and share the experience of having a new baby with my wife,” Montgomery said. “I wanted to be with her through the whole time. Everything worked out extremely well.”
After living a nomadic life for the better part of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Montgomery is ready to settle down.
“Even though I’ve always wanted the perfect relationship,” he said, “I also know there probably isn’t a perfect relationship out there. Just like there’s probably not the perfect love ballad out there for me to sing.
“But I know I can really strive to get it to where it is as good as it can possibly be.
“I’ve always wanted to be a happily married man. And I’m very happy right now, probably happier then I’ve ever been in my life, because I’ve got everything lined up the way I feel works best for me and my family.”