Diamond Rio is an American Country music/Christian music band based in Nashville, Tennessee. Dan Truman, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Marty Roe formed the band in 1984.
Truman and Roe’s original bluegrass group was named the Tennessee River Boys. Jimmy Olander and Gene Johnson joined the group a year after. Brian Prout and Dana Williams joined later. They changed the band’s name to Diamond Rio. The name Diamond Rio came from truck manufacturer Diamond Reo, a merger of two truck manufacturers, Diamond T and Reo (the latter of which became misspelled in the band's name).
Tim DuBois, a record executive at Arista Records, discovered the band and signed them to a record deal in May 1989. Due to serious health issues afflicting three of the band members (Olander, Williams, and Johnson), the band debuted their first single in 1991. “Meet in the Middle” reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts, making Diamond Rio the first country music group in history to reach the top spot with a debut single. "Meet in the Middle" was followed by 32 more chart singles throughout the band's career, including four more number ones: “How Your Love Makes Me Feel” (1997), “One More Day” (2001), “Beautiful Mess” (2002), and “I Believe” (2003).
Diamond Rio has recorded seven studio albums, two Greatest Hits compilations, and an album of Christmas music. The band has sold over 10 million albums earning three platinum and five gold records. Diamond Rio won the Country Music Association’s Vocal Group of the Year award four times, two Academy of Country Music Awards in the top Vocal Group of the Year category, and thirteen Grammy nominations.
At the end of 1998, Diamond Rio was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, the first band in fourteen years to be inducted.
In 2010, Diamond Rio received nominations for the GMA Dove Awards, and the Dove Award for Country Album of the Year. In 2012, the band received the prestigious White Hat honor in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The band was the recipient of the 2013 AutoZone Liberty Bowl’s Outstanding Achievement Award.
In the country music industry, Nashville record producers hire mostly session musicians to record tracks for an album for solo artists. This also applies to self-contained country bands, as opposed to rock bands that record their own instrumental and vocal tracks on their albums. Diamond Rio has been one of few self-contained country bands to have each member playing his own instruments and singing his own vocals on all the group’s albums without any additional input from outside musicians.
A Group of Experienced Musicians
Members of Diamond Rio had experience in other bands before Diamond Rio's foundation.
Lead vocalist Marty Roe was previously a member of a band called Windsong, which toured nationally in the early 1980s.
Dan Truman (keyboards, piano, organ, synthesizer) is a classically trained pianist who had previously toured with Brigham Young University’s Young Ambassadors musical troupe.
Dana Williams, the band's bass guitarist, is a nephew of the Osborne Brothers, a bluegrass group that is a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Williams also played in a bluegrass band and was a backing musician for Cal Smith, Vassar Clements, and Jimmy C. Newman.
Gene Johnson, the oldest member of the group, plays mandolin, fiddle, and guitar, had previously worked with David Bromberg, Keith Whitley, and J. D. Crow before joining Diamond Rio in 1985.
Drummer Brian Prout was previously a member of the Hot Walker Band and Heartbreak Mountain.
Jimmy Olander had previously been a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Diamond Rio has long supported Big Brothers Big Sisters and has raised over 1.5 million dollars for the charity to date through annual events, including golf tournaments and Team Rio, a marathon and half marathon group. Each of the band members is a National Spokesperson for the charity.