A lot of bands lend their name to the title of their first album, but country giants Restless Heart did it the other way around. The band was still unnamed in 1984 when it wrapped up production on its RCA Records debut.
"The label came to us and said, 'Guys we already know what the first single is going to be, so it'd be nice to be able to put a name for the band on it,'" recalls lead singer Larry Stewart, a last-minute replacement when original vocalist Verlon Thompson left the group before it signed its deal. "We had no clue. We were coming up with all kinds of body parts and adjective combinations."
The quintet ultimately borrowed its name from a favorite track on the to-be-released record, an inauspicious beginning to a resilient band that has complied 26 hits to its name, including six No. 1 records. This year Restless Heart is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its founding with a tour that stops in Tunica for an 8 p.m. Saturday show at the Gold Strike Casino's Millennium Theater (1010 Casino Center Drive, Tunica Resorts, Miss.).
"We really feel blessed," says Stewart, who joins John Dittrich, Paul Gregg, Dave Innis and Greg Jennings in the group. "We feel lucky to have the original five guys still together and having a great time and playing and singing as well as ever."
As much as commemorating their past, Restless Heart's 30th anniversary tour signals a new start to a band whose future was once very much in doubt.
Starting with that first record, Restless Heart had a phenomenal run in the '80s and early '90s, releasing six studio albums with No. 1 hits like "I'll Still Be Loving You," "The Bluest Eyes In Texas," and "A Tender Lie."
But in 1994 the group fell apart. Four members briefly reunited in 1998. Then in 2002, all five original members of the band came together again to make Still Restless.
"We did a group hug and realized how lucky we had been," says Stewart. "The '90s breakup is probably the reason we're still together. It needed to happen. Everybody needed to figure it out and get their lives back together and grow up a little bit, quite honestly."
Restless Heart has been beating strong ever since and is preparing to go into perhaps it's busiest period since its early days. Besides the current tour, which will visit 25 cities, the band is sitting on a stockpile of recordings with tentative plans to release a new studio album, as well as a Christmas record and perhaps a collection of standards.
"We're not sure what we're going to do," says Stewart. "We're talking to a lot of people about doing a lot of different things. So we're excited, quite frankly, to be getting past this holiday season so we can figure out what we want to do."
Tickets to Restless Heart are $14.95 and $19.95 plus tax; available at the gift shop and through Ticketmaster. For more information, call 800-745-3000 or visit goldstrike.com.
Also In Tunica This Week
Year after year, losing weight tops the list of most frequently made New Year's resolutions. Unfortunately, recent research from the University of Scranton suggests that as few as 8 percent of resolutions are achieved.
In 2013, however, Mid-Southerners will get an extra edge in their vows to shed the pounds.
Fitness guru Richard Simmons, the New Orleans native who in the 1970s shed 123 pounds and started a fitness empire, will be at Fitzgerald's Casino Great Hall in Tunica (711 Lucky Lane, Robinsonville, Miss.) at 7 p.m. Saturday to inspire prospective dieters at the "Fitz Fitness Resolution" event.
Simmons will offer motivation and tips on how to get healthy in 2013. He is making his Tunica appearance despite a recent incident in which a car ran over his foot, leaving him limping.
Tickets to the "Fitz Fitness Resolution" are $25 and are available at the casino gift shop and through Ticketmaster. For more information, call 800-363-5825 or visit fitzgeraldstunica.com.