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Exterior of Chief's on Broadway
Exterior of Chief's on Broadway

Jesus or Bob Seger?

The Stories Behind the Stained Glass

Spanning the second and third floors of Chief’s are 20 stained glass windows depicting some of the most impactful influences on Eric’s career. Honoring these artists permanently on the building built to personify Church’s music and career seemed like the perfect fit.

Learn a little bit more about each of the artists he chose and why.

Top Row, Left to Right

1. Prince
Prince is one of the greatest guitar players of all time, so it makes sense that Church would respect him. And if you were at a certain Minneapolis show in February of 2019, you might have seen a very rare Church cover of Prince’s “Kiss,” complete with falsetto.

2. Rolling Stones
Eric Church might be the closest thing we have in 2024 to a rock star. So it only makes sense that he counts all-time rock icons the Rolling Stones as one of his major influences. He covered “Gimme Shelter” on a 2023 tribute album.

3. George Strait
One of the many “pinch me” moments in Church’s career has come on the multiple times he has performed with the legendary George Strait. That includes one of Strait’s final performances in the state of Texas, which Church commemorated in the unreleased “On the Road.” And, of course, as Church sings in “Love Your Love the Most,” “Any song by George Strait is country at its best.”

4. Kris Kristofferson
It’s pretty simple — nothing in this building would be here without Kris Kristofferson. In addition to being a powerful musical influence, it was Kristofferson’s song, “To Beat the Devil,” that persuaded Eric to give Nashville another couple days before returning home to North Carolina. The very next day, he got a publishing deal. And almost 20 years later, Church’s legacy — inspired by Kristofferson — is commemorated here at Chief’s.

5. The Band
The Band has been one of the very few groups regularly covered by Eric Church. They were a signature part of his musical education, and he continues to honor them by covering hits like “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “The Weight.” The day after lead singer Robbie Robertson died, Church saluted him on stage by covering “Ophelia.”

6. Hank Williams Jr.
Church would eventually open for the legendary Hank Williams Jr. on multiple occasions. But Hank’s music has an even more important place in his life: Eric and his brother, Brandon, passed many an afternoon and evening listening to Hank’s entire catalog.

7. Aretha Franklin
Eric Church remembers the exact soundtrack when he met his wife — she had “Eleanor Rigby” by Aretha Franklin playing on the stereo. And that’s when he thought this might be serious. Franklin has been a continual influence on Chief; he covered “A Natural Woman” at an August 2018 concert in tribute to her after her death.

8. Billy Joel
There was only one place to end the Gather Again tour in May of 2022: Madison Square Garden. And there was only one way to open that tour finale: with Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.” Church has covered numerous other Joel songs, including “Allentown” and “Piano Man,” which was part of the epic Nissan Stadium show in Nashville in May of 2019.

9. Jimmy Buffett
If you’d seen one of Eric Church’s first-ever performances, you would have seen a healthy dose of Jimmy Buffett songs. They formed a significant chunk of some of those early playlists when Church was a high schooler taking any gig he could find at local dive bars. Talk about full circle: Church performed at a Buffett tribute in Los Angeles in April of 2024.

10. Michael Jackson
It’s true: Eric Church has covered The Jackson 5. In addition to admiring Jackson’s showmanship and ability to entertain large and diverse audiences, Church also covered “I’ll Be There” at a Detroit show in 2019 as part of a Motown medley.

Bottom Row, Left to Right

11. John Prine
“He’s one of my all-time favorites,” Church says of John Prine, “and he taught me how to write songs.” Prine passed away in April 2020 and was widely celebrated by the songwriting community as one of the foundations of the art.

12. Bob Seger
After Church was fired from the Rascal Flatts tour in 2006, Bob Seger reached out with an offer. “You can’t open for them,” he told Church, “but you can open for me.” Church had always been a Seger fan. The personal connection created that summer made him a lifelong devotee, and he’s seen Seger in concert multiple times. Seger medleys are regular features of Church shows near Seger’s hometown of Detroit, including as recently as the summer of 2023.

13. Eric Church
Every fan who has ever bought a ticket to a show is part of Chief’s. Every person who has sung along to a Chief song on the radio, or danced at your wedding, or maybe even gotten that EFC tattoo. Eric Church hasn’t always felt like he was part of Nashville. This building is his corner of this town — and because of that, it’s also your corner of this town. This is where The Outsiders are insiders.

14. Johnny Cash
One of the all-time great live performances by Eric Church came at the 2020 ACM awards. Cash’s family has traditionally been very protective of his legacy, declining multiple requests to have his songs reinterpreted. Church broke through with an impassioned letter explaining why “Ragged Old Flag” was important to him. The family agreed, and Church played “Ragged Old Flag” straight into “Stick That In Your Country Song.” If you look closely at that performance, you can see some of the creative seeds of the two-show residency Church performed at the Country Music Hall of Fame in the summer of 2023 and the ”To Beat The Devil” shows performed in this very venue.

15. Michael Jordan
Perhaps no influence more dramatically traces the arc of Church’s career than Michael Jordan. Church grew up a diehard fan of the University of North Carolina basketball team, where Jordan played his college basketball. And like most teenagers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he tracked every highlight from Jordan with the Chicago Bulls. Jordan eventually became the greatest player of all time, and Church improbably now counts him as a friend (he has him in his phone as “GOAT”).

16. Bruce Springsteen
The 2012 song “Springsteen” catapulted Church’s career to another level. Ironically, the inspiration for the song actually didn’t come at a Springsteen show, but the song has created a connection between the two artists that has lasted for over a decade. A note Springsteen wrote Church is available in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Eric Church exhibit.

17. Dolly Parton
By October of 2023, Church’s career had been so astronomical that he very rarely got starstruck anymore. He made an exception for Dolly Parton, whom he shared the stage with at a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame event.

18. Willie Nelson
Church has performed at multiple Willie Nelson tributes and has also checked off a bucket list item by hanging out on Nelson’s tour bus and, uh, celebrating another a great show. Nelson also serves as the lyrical inspiration for Church deep track, “Leave My Willie Alone,” which was sparked by an ex who refused to return Nelson records from Church’s music collection.

19. Waylon Jennings
Jennings is a longtime Church influence, both in songwriting and attitude. He’s performed multiple Jennings songs in concert, but there might be no better tribute than the summer of 2023 at a Texas concert. After an incident with the state of Texas flag being hung upside down, Church paused the show while his crew flipped the flag. And while it was being switched, he sporadically broke into, “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love).” Waylon would have been proud.

20. Tina Turner
Yes, believe it or not, Eric Church has covered Tina Turner. It happened in February of 2019 in Minneapolis, when he did Turner’s version of “Proud Mary.” Their music might be different — their ability to entertain connected them.