Ten years ago today, the Zac Brown Band scored their first #1 hit with their first single, “Chicken Fried.” Written by Zac, who’s written or co-written almost all of the band’s singles, and Wyatt Durrette, the song has sold about 5-million copies! But the song had a long history before fans got to hear the Zac Brown Band version.

Zac and Wyatt had met in a bar in Atlanta, Georgia, where Brown was playing. He had already starting writing the song when he and Durrette starting listing “things that are very southern or characteristic of the South to put into this song.” The patriotic third verse (“I thank God for my life, for the Stars and Stripes…) was added after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Even though he was performing the song in concert, he still didn’t consider it finished until a line was added to the second verse.

The version you hear on the radio is NOT the original version. In 2003, the band recorded it and, two years later, included it on their self-released album “Home Grown.” The next year, it started getting radio airplay, but by a different band…and it wasn’t supposed to have been released!

The Lost Trailers were a new band and wanted to record the song. Zac later remembered, “This band, The Lost Trailers had called and said, ‘We want to record ‘Chicken Fried’.’ I was like, ‘Well, I don’t have a problem with you recording the song, but this is our song. As long as you don’t release it to radio, if you want to have it on your record, I’m fine with that.” But Zac’s “worst nightmare” came true. He heard it on the radio and it wasn’t his group doing the song. The Lost Trailers had got a major record deal and the head of the label insisted on releasing their version of the song. But after a phone call to a lawyer and a cease-and-desist order, The Lost Trailers version was pulled from radio.

In 2008, the Zac Brown Band re-recorded the song which was released as their first single, which topped the charts ten years ago today.

BTW, Keith Stegall, who had produced much of Alan Jackson’s music, produced the Zac Brown Band album, “The Foundation,” with the song on it. Alan was planning to record the song before Zac’s version was released, but decided not to. Jackson felt he already had too many songs that mentioned food.