The music industry is a tough business. It takes a lot for an artist to not only make it in the music industry, but also survive enough to have a long lasting career. Fame can come pretty quickly, but it also fades just as fast. Some artists climb all the way to the top only to fall right to the bottom, and although many leave on their own accord, there are plenty who are forced out. Here’s a look at 18 country artists who completely disappeared from the limelight!
18. Cole Deggs & The Lonesome
This group meets the definition of a one hit wonder. Cole Deggs & The Lonesome only had one major hit “I Got More” which was released in 2007. The song peaked at No. 25 on the charts, which wasn’t bad for a break-out band, but when they released their second single it barely made an impact. They were immediately dropped from their label and haven’t been heard from since!
17. Cyndi Thomson
Her career began at Capitol Records in 2000 with the debut single “What I Really Meant to Say” which climbed to the No. 1 spot on the charts. What’s impressive is that this wasn’t her only charting single from that album. She also charted two other hits: “I Always Liked That Best” and “I’m Gone.” Unfortunately, after all this success she kind of fell off the musical map because she wouldn’t commit to making another album. She tried to make a comeback in 2006, but once again failed to release any new music. Finally in 2009 she released an EP (nearly a decade after her first studio album), but it was too little too late.
16. Charly McClain
Charly McClain was a big country star in the ’80s after she released her first top 10 hit, “That’s What You Do to Me,” in 1978. She then landed her first No. 1 single in 1981, “Who’s Cheatin’ Who,” which instantly shot her into stardom. She had a slew of other hits throughout the ’80s like “Sleeping With the Radio On,” and “Radio Heart,” and even dived into some acting, but her success began to subside in the late ’80s. She stopped making music after her last album in 1989 and retired from showbiz in the early ’90s to spend more time with her family.
15. Bradley Gaskin
Most country music fans know Bradley Gaskin for his one and only single “Mr. Bartender.” The song was released in 2011, and peaked in the No. 51 spot on the charts. The song wasn’t considered a commercial success because it didn’t make it very far on the charts. After this he experienced quite a bit of trouble with different record labels. After a tour with Big & Rich in 2012, he completely dropped out of the spotlight.
14. Bobbie Gentry
She became a household name in 1967 under the smash hit “Ode to Billie Joe.” That same year, Bobbie Gentry won three Grammy Awards and sold 3 million copies of that song. She has now gone down in history as one of the first female country artists to compose and produce her own music. Gentry had huge success in the late ’60s and continued to release music, but unfortunately was never again able to match that success in her career. In 1978 she released her last single, “He Did Me Wrong But He Did It Right,” which failed to chart, so she decided to retire from show business. She settled down in Los Angeles and disappeared from the public eye.
13. Chris Cagle
Chris Cagle was active in country music until 2015 when he announced an early retirement. The former country star was best known for his singles, “What a Beautiful Day,” “What Kinda Gone,” and “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out.” His debut album Play It Loud was certified gold in the U.S., as was his second self-titled album. He released three albums after that, all of which had top 20 hits. In 2010 Cagle switched record labels and released the album Back in the Saddle, but in 2013 the label went defunct. He surprised fans in October 2015 when he took to Facebook to share a cryptic message with fans and informally announce his retirement from country music in order to spend more time with his family. However, as of 2022, his personal website says he’s still playing shows around the U.S.
12. Julie Roberts
Julie Roberts rose to fame under the 2004 debut single “Break Down Here.” It didn’t take long for the song to climb into the Top 20, and not long after that she had two songs in the Top 50. Despite charting singles, she seemed to continue to struggle to break into the music industry in a big way. Andrews eventually left her record label and released her third album independently, but it flunked. In 2013 she signed with Sun Records, but once again her fourth album was unsuccessful. She seemed to hit a streak of bad luck. Fans heard from her in 2013 when she auditioned for The Voice, but she didn’t even make it past the blind auditions! In October 2022, Roberts released her first album in almost a decade, Ain’t In No Hurry, so who knows where her career is headed?
They were a popular country music group founded in 1989, who rose to fame in the early 2000s with the release of their debut album, The Whole SHeBANG, which produced popular singles, “Little Good-Byes,” “This Woman Needs” and “I Will…But.” Their second album Knock on the Sky debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard country album chart, but didn’t sell as well as their first. SHeDAISY released three more studio albums, one of which was gold-certified, as well as a Christmas album and greatest hits compilation. Unfortunately, the group lost steam after they left Lyric Street Records in 2010 and didn’t sign with another label. They haven’t made any public appearances, performances or recorded any new music since!
10. Ty England
Ty England landed a record deal and released his first single, “Should’ve Asked Her Faster,” in 1995. The song peaked in the No. 3 spot on the charts and paved the way for him to release three more albums by 1999. Unfortunately, the newcomer wasn’t able to land anymore singles in the top 10. In fact, the closest he ever got was with his single “Irresistible You” which landed in the No. 22 spot on the top 40. After a brief hiatus, he released one last album in 2007, but it failed to chart any singles. He retired from country music for a while and sold real estate in Oklahoma, but toured with Garth Brooks on his Stadium Tour from 2018 and 2022 on acoustic guitar and backing vocals.
9. Shelly West
When Shelly West began singing she was already kind of famous for being the daughter of famed country singer Dottie West. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Shelly rose to fame in the ‘80s and was well known for performing duets with David Frizzell. Their best selling No. 1 hit together was “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma,” in addition to her own No. 1 single “Jose Cuervo.” Her career was smooth sailing for the most part, but around the time of her mother’s death in 1991, West retired from the music industry. She’s continued to perform here and there, but she’s rarely ever seen in the limelight.
8. Collin Raye
Collin Raye is an old time favorite for many country music fans. He began his career as Bubba Wray in the band The Wrays, but then broke off to start his own solo career in 1990. Things were off to a good start when he landed a No. 1 single with the release of “Love, Me.” He continued to experience success with his following albums, but then it started to unexpectedly waiver in 2000. Although he did have one single from his 2000 album chart in the Top 5, it was the last charted single he ever had. While he’s continued to work in the music industry ever since, he’s never reached the same level of success that he once had in the ‘90s. Fans haven’t really heard much from him since 2009.
7. Shania Twain
Although she’s in the midst of making a huge comeback in her career, Shania Twain was a country artist who disappeared from the limelight for over a decade. Twain sold over 100 million records, making her one of the best selling artists of all time! She’s received five Grammy Awards and spawned iconic hits like “Any Man of Mine,” “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” “From This Moment On,” and “You’re Still the One.” Despite all her success, she’d had a relatively short career. In 2004 she retired from country music and cited a weakening voice. She moved to Switzerland and her career slowed down almost completely. Thankfully, the singer went back into the recording studio and released her first album in 15 years, Now! In September 2022, Twain announced that fans could expect another new album, Queen of Me, in 2023.
6. Jeff Carson
Jeff Carson signed to Curb Records in 1995 and released his debut single, “Yeah Buddy.” From the same album he released the No. 1 single “Not on Your Love,” as well as “The Car” and “Holdin’ Onto Somethin'” which both landed in the Top 10. He released two more albums after that, Butterfly Kisses (1997) and Real Life (1998), but never again managed to get a song into the Top 10, or even the Top 40! Although he didn’t release anymore albums, he continued to release singles between 2000 and 2006. Eventually in February 2009 Carson announced his retirement from country music and joined the Franklin, Tennessee police force as a full-time police officer. He sadly passed away from a heart attack in March 2022 at the age of 58.
5. Jessica Andrews
She was a young rising star who stepped onto the scene at the age of 15 in 1999. Her debut album did quite well with three singles on the Top 40 charts, but Jessica Andrew’s real succes came in 2001 when she charted the No. 1 single “Who I Am.” Little did we know, this was the peak of her career. Andrews did manage to chart one other single in the Top 20, but she hasn’t been up to much in the past decade ever since her record company, Carolwood Records closed. She was the only artist who wasn’t transferred to its parent company, Lyric Street, and unfortunately fans haven’t really heard from her since.
Ricochet is another band that fell victim to the curse of the one hit wonder. They had an immense amount of success with the release of their debut album, Ricochet. On this album, they garned a No. 1 hit single “Daddy’s Money,” as well as three other Top 10 hits. It was the gift that just kept giving. Unfortunately, none of their following albums ever lived up to their first. They never even landed another single on the Top 10 charts. Ricochet was eventually dropped from their label in 2001, so they moved onto another independent label. Since then the band has gone through an immense amount of change – only a few of the original band members are still around today.
3. The Chicks (Formerly The Dixie Chicks)
These ladies recently made a big comeback in country music after performing with Beyonce at the 50th annual CMA awards back in 2016. The Dixie Chicks were huge country stars in the ‘90s, but their success began to plummet in the early 2000’s when they made politically charged comments about then-President George W. Bush. In 2006 they released the album Taking the Long Way, and the documentary Shut Up and Sing, but then went on hiatus. The Dixie Chicks didn’t return to the limelight until around mid-2015 when they announced a new tour. In 2020, the band renamed themselves The Chicks and released their first studio album in 14 years, Gaslighter!
2. LaCosta Tucker
LaCosta Tucker rose to fame as a country artist in the 1970s and 1980s. She is the sister of successful singer, Tanya Tucker, the two of them performed together as kids in a band called the Country Westerners. After graduating college, she moved to Las Vegas to be with her sister, Tanya, and landed a recording contract with Capitol Records in 1974. She released a series of hit singles like, “I Wanna Get To You,” “Get On My Love Train,” and “He Took Me for a Ride,” and her fame continued throughout the ’80s, but her last charted single was “Love Take It Easy on Me” in 1982. After that she toured with her sister, Tanya Tucker, for a bit, but then disappeared from the limelight all together.
1. Ricky Van Shelton
Ricky Van Shelton had a long career in country music before he retired in 2006. He rose to fame under his debut album Wild-Eyed Dream in 1986 and since then released 10 No. 1 hits like “Somebody Lied,” “Life Turned Her That Way,” “Don’t We All Have the Right,” and “Living Proof,” just to name a few. He released nine studio albums throughout his career – the first four were all certified platinum, but his last album 2000’s Fried Green Tomatoes failed to make an impression on listeners and by May 2006 Shelton announced he was retiring so he could spend more time with his family.