Jon McElroy embraces his compulsions: solitude, songwriting and smoking cigarettes.
"I swear to God, smoking is a writing tool," admits Jon. "I didn't really start smoking until I was 50. Truth is, I only used to smoke when I was drinking with my friends. Now I like lighting up after a verse and a chorus. It is calming… And it makes me a better songwriter."
Jon’s relationship with songwriting began only when his love affair with rock n’ roll stopped paying the bills. After an eight-year stint heading a successful indie rock band in LA, Jon found himself back in his parent’s basement in Houston, Texas waiting out the last six months of a shady deal gone sour with a gangster manager. He took a gig playing in a country cover band.
Says McElroy of his first night on a country stage, “They asked me to play George Strait. I said, ‘Who’s George Strait?’ They looked at me like I’d said, ‘Who’s Jesus?’”
Six months and a million country songs later, Jon began looking for a way to make a prolonged living in the music business and decided on songwriting. With a rare four days off from gigging, McElroy headed to Nashville with nothing but a tank of gas, a handful of unsolicited demo cassette tapes and his sights set on a deal. An unexpected snowfall in Memphis left Jon with less than 24-hours in Music City to get the job done. In legendary Nashville-style, he walked door to door down Music Row, leaving his tapes and a forwarding number (at Shoney’s Inn) with gracious receptionists. Just hours before his scheduled return to Houston, the ambitious Jon received a call, set up a meeting and agreed to his first deal.
“I knew it wasn’t the way to do it,” states Jon, “but I knocked, told them I was from LA, and asked them to listen to my stuff. And it worked. I’ve had a deal every day since.”
Jon’s substantial list of hit singles includes, “She Drew A Broken Heart” (Patty Loveless), “The Shake” (Neal McCoy), “She Went Out For Cigarettes” (Chely Wright), “Upper Middle Class White Trash” & “Happy Endings” (Lee Brice), “I Take That As A Yes” (Phil Vassasr) and other cuts by Kenny Chesney, Little Texas, Travis Tritt and The Kinleys.
“My claim to fame,” jokes McElroy, “is that I may be the only writer, now or maybe ever, to use the word ‘pee’ in a radio single. I wanna thank Lee Brice for recording that one.”
Jon has found a new and welcoming home with RareSpark Media Group and looks forward to penning new hit songs in true McElroy fashion. “Scot and Suzanne understand what I do and how I do it. I appreciate them and what they’re trying to do. I call them friends. Hell, I’ve already promised them meat from the smoke house I’m building,” says Jon with a lit cigarette and a smile, “But that’s another story.”