Thomas Rhett Akins Jr., born March 30th, 1990, is the son of country singer Rhett Akins, responsible for the #1 country hit “Don’t Get Me Started.” His father toured as a singer throughout his childhood.
When the boy was old enough, Akins would bring him onstage to play drums and, on one occasion, cover Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.”
In high school, Rhett played in a punk band with a memorable name: the High Heeled Flip Flops. But it was just having fun. Rhett swore that he was never going to get involved as a professional performer. By that time, his father’s career had declined somewhat, and the young man saw how fickle the music business could be.
After high school, Thomas Rhett attended David Lipscomb University in Nashville. He played at raucous frat parties in Georgia and Tennessee. He learned how to handle a crowd, and ply his trademark mix of rock, rap, and country.
By that time, Thomas’s father had evolved into a successful Nashville songwriter. He was part of The Peach Pickers, a renowned songwriting team that had assembled hits for such singers as Blake Shelton and Brooks & Dunn. After playing a musical showcase with the old man, Thomas got offered a publishing deal. Still, in his twenties, Thomas soon matched his father’s songwriting credentials with co-writing credits on “I Ain’t Ready to Quit,” from Jason Aldean’s multi-platinum My Kinda Party.
Rhett Akins on Thomas Rhett
“It seems like it has just been pouring out of his mouth since he was at least 17 or 18, like just way more natural at it,” Rhett Akins Sr. said of his son’s musical abilities.
“I don’t know if that’s just the way that he was born or just a combination of that he was born with talent and grew up on a tour bus, and grew up backstage, and grew up listening to all my demos and records.”
Seven record labels wanted to sign Rhett as a solo performer. In 2010, Big Machine Records — home of Taylor Swift and Justin Moore — won out.
In 2012, Thomas Rhett released his debut single, “Something to Do With My Hands.” The song topped out at #19 on the country singles chart. In fall of 2013, the young singer released his major-label debut, It Goes Like This. The title track was co-written by his father and sailed to #1 on the country radio charts.
“I think we were both in shock that my first #1 was written by him,” Rhett said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “You can’t plan that kind of thing out. He was so pumped. He was over the moon proud of me. I remember him saying ‘Dude, you were meant to do this. We were meant to do this together. God had it all planned out.’ For a dad to say that, those words will stick with me forever.'”
“Country, rock and hip-hop were what I was raised on,” Thomas Rhett told Great American Country. “It’s a strange combination, but it all leaks into what I write.”