Marty Roe was named for country music artist Marty Robbins. Roe began singing country music at the age of three. Gene Johnson had previously played with David Bromberg. Jimmy Olander was a former backup member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Dana Williams was a nephew of the Osborne Brothers.
In 1984, Truman met Roe for the first time at Opryland USA, a theme park in Nashville, Tennessee. Truman had just received a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University. The two soon formed a bluegrass group, which was named the Grizzly River Boys. They changed it later to Tennessee River Boys. Olander and Johnson had previously worked with Keith Whitley; they joined a year later. After Prout and Williams joined the band, they changed the name to Diamond Rio, because others thought the previous named sounded like a gospel music band. They took the name from two truck manufacturers, Diamond T, and REO. The last became misspelled in the band’s name.
With the new name of Diamond Rio, the band was soon discovered by Tim Dubois, a record executive in 1989. Dubois had just opened a Nashville division of the country music record producing company, and signed Diamond Rio to a record deal the same month. Three members of the band had health problems; Olander was diagnosed with a tumor, Williams was injured while boating, and Johnson was injured in a carpentry accident.
After the three recovered, the six musicians set to work on their first album. Its first single, “Meet in the Middle” was release early, peaking at Number One on the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks. Chart. The song made Diamond Rio the first country music band in history to reach Number One with its debut single. The debut self-titles album produced the Top 10 hits, “Mirror Mirror”, “Mama Don’t Forget to Pray for Me”, “Norma Jean Riley” and “Nowhere Bound”. An instrumental was also included on the album called “Poultry Promenade”. This album was certified platinum for selling more than one million copies in the U S.
In 1992, the group released a second album, “Close to the Edge”. Although the album was certified gold for sales of 500,000 copies, it only had two singles to make it to the Top 10.
The third album was”Love a Little Stronger”; it was released in 1994. After this album, they did not have a single on the charts for three months. The title track to “Love a Little Stronger” reached a peak of #2 on the Billboard country music chart. This album also earned the band its second platinum certification.
In 1994, Diamond Rio teamed up with country music guitarists Lee Roy Parnell and Steve Wariner to do a number on a tribute album to Merle Haggard. The album was called”Mama’s Hungry Eyes”. This new “group” called themselves Jed Zeppelin. The song they did was “Workin’ Man’s Blues”; this song was made into a country music video.
Diamond Rio’s fourth album was released in 1996, titled “IV”. This album produced four singles. Three of these singles reached Top Ten hits. In 1997, Diamond Rio made a recording of the gospel “Walkin’ in Jerusalem” for a compilation called “Peace in the Valley; A Country Music Journey Through Gospel Music”. Their “Greatest Hits” package was released in 1997; it included two new songs as well. One of the new songs,” How Your Love Makes Me Feel”, was released as a single, and became the band’s second Number One, and the biggest chart hit for any country music group that year.
The album “Unbelievable”, released in 1998. This album was certified gold; it produced consecutive Top Five country music hits in “You’re Gone”, and “Unbelievable”.
Diamond Rio was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1998, becoming the first band in fourteen years to be inducted. TNN also filmed a television special about the band in 1999, called “The Life and Times of Diamond Rio”.
The next album for Diamond Rio was “One More Day” released in 2001. The title track went on to be Number One. A radio station in New York played the song as a tribute to Dale Earnhardt, then other stations followed suit. It also gained heavy rotation after the dreadful 9/11 attack as a tribute song to the victims. This album was the fourth Gold Certification for Diamond Rio.
The band released its album entitled “Completely” in 2002. This album was certified Gold, and produced two Number One singles.
Diamond Rio’s second Greatest Hits package, “Greatest Hits, Volume 2” was released in 2006. This compilation also contained several new songs.
In August of 2007, Diamond Rio signed with Word Records, a Christian music labels in Nashville, TN. Their first album with Word was a Christmas album called “A Diamond Rio Christmas: The Star Still Shines.”
Diamond Rio received the award for Top Vocal Group from the Academy of Country Music in 1991 and 1992. The country Music Association awarded them Vocal Group of the Year in 1992, 1993, 1994. and 1997. Diamond Rio has received thirteen Grammy nominations. They won the award for Country Album of the Year.
Since the beginning of Diamond Rio in 1984, in Nashville, Tennessee, the group has comprised the same six members: Gene Johnson (mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and tenor vocals), Jimmy Olander (lead guitar, Dobro, Danelectro, banjo), Brian Prout (drums), Marty Roe (lead vocals), Dan Truman (keyboards, organ, and synthesizer), and Dana Williams (bass guitar, baritone vocals).
Diamond Rio has recorded a total of seven studio country music albums, and two Greatest Hits compilations. They have also done an album of Christmas music. They have received four “Group of the Year” awards from the Country Music Association, two “Top Vocal Group” awards from the Academy of Country Music, and thirteen Grammy Award nominations. This combined talent of this wonderful group has given country music fans pleasure for quite a few years. Diamond Rio has also pleased many in the adult contemporary music field. This “Diamond” in the country music field, really shines.