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Rascal Flatts Guitarist Reveals Real Reason He Quit the Band and Disappeared

Joe Don Rooney just shared an update about his life and debunked an unsubstantiated rumor.

As fans of the band know, Rascal Flatts hasn't been active for a few years now. Amid their disbandment, there were initially plans for a farewell tour. Then, the tour was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. After that, the members gave varying accounts about their status and who had called it quits before confirming that Rascal Flatts was over—at least for now. During this time, Rascal Flatts guitarist Joe Don Rooney notably left the spotlight, leading to much gossip. Now, in a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter), Rooney has explained what actually happened to him and addressed a rumor about his personal life.

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After noting that it's been "a couple of years" since he interacted with fans on social media, the musician said that the start of a new year seemed like a good time to speak out. The 48-year-old went on to explain that his journey to becoming sober is the reason that he stepped away from public life.

"My life and career took a major detour at 4a [sic] in the early morning hours of Sep 9, 2021 when I ran square into a tree and about killed myself," Rooney writes. "I was drunk and I was so far gone with my life – I was completely out of control and finished with trying to fight the fears, depression and anxieties that had spun me out in a way I've never experienced before."

In June 2022, Rooney pleaded guilty to a DUI charge for the September 2021 incident, as reported by The Tennessean. He was ordered to serve two days in jail and the remaining 11 months and 27 days of his sentence were suspended. He also lost his driver's license and had to complete DUI training.

Rooney explains in his post that the accident led him to get sober, admitting that his "drinking had been an issue for many years." He continues, "I was not a good father – I was not a good husband – and I was not a good band mate to my business partners. I probably would've never taken responsibility for any of this if it hadn't been for my car wreck on Sep 9, 2021 … Fortunately, (and I truly believe this,) God lead me into that tree safely enough to not kill me – and luckily nobody else was involved and I didn't injure or kill anyone."

He says that he went to a treatment center in Utah for four months and has now been sober for nearly 28 months.

Now, he plans to "protect [his] family and protect [his] sobriety." Rooney adds, "I have new healthy boundaries for the first time in my life. Only positive, loving, caring & understanding people may enter."

In his post, the musician also addresses the "many rumors and opinions thrown around about" him and why he became so private. After first confirming that he is, in fact, alive, he debunks one theory in particular.

"NO, I'm not transitioning to be a woman," Rooney writes. "That thought has never entered my mind. Nothing against the trans community whatsoever but I needed to set the record straight."

While Rooney has been focused on his sobriety and Rascal Flatts have disbanded, the guitarist did make some headlines over the past couple of years due to his divorce from ex-wife Tiffany Fallon, to whom he had been married since 2006. As reported by People, Rooney filed for divorce in January 2021, but a tense legal battle meant the divorce wasn't finalized until December 2023. The former couple have three children together.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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