If he wasn’t in the music business, Billy Currington thinks he might be a professional surfer.
“Surfing is what I do in my free time,” Currington said. “I would probably be doing it competitively – who knows?”
The Georgia native will bring his We Are Tonight tour, with Brett Eldredge and Chase Rice, to the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center on March 20. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show cost $28.50 to $35.50 and are available at the center’s box office or through Ticketmaster.
In the decade since he debuted with “Walk a Little Straighter,” Currington, 40, has topped the charts with “Good Directions,” “Must Be Doin’ Something Right” and “People are Crazy.”
Like many country entertainers, Currington began singing in church. At 18, he moved to Nashville to start paying his dues. He poured concrete and worked as a personal trainer during the day and played his music at the bars at night.
The first time he heard his own music on the radio, Currington said he was headed home to Savannah, Ga., from Destin, Fla.
“I was almost there and I had just started to pick up the local radio station, and it was the first song I heard,” Currington said. “The announcer said ‘this is hometown boy Billy Currington,’ and then he played ‘Walk a Little Straighter.’
“I turned it up as loud as I could,” Currington said during a recent phone interview from Little Rock, Ark.
His process for writing those hits isn’t an exact science.
“It’s always different,” he said. “It could be something comes to me when I’m holding my guitar. Or someone says something that sounds like a great title. Or I’m in the studio with a friend creating grooves or melodies.”
Currington said he’s grateful for his success, and for the fans that have stood by him through a brush with the law.
In April 2013, he was indicted on felony charges of abuse of an elder person by inflicting mental anguish and making terroristic threats against a boat captain. In September, he pleaded no contest to the abuse charge and the terroristic threats charge was dropped.
He was sentenced to five years probation, a $1,000 fine and must attend anger management counseling.
And what is the oddest thing a fan has ever asked him to autograph?
“Well, I don’t know if someone’s bare naked butt is odd, but it’s not normal,” he said with a laugh. “They had it tattooed. I’ve seen that more than once.
“In that spot, it had to hurt.”
We Are Tonight tour
• WHO: Billy Currington with Brett Eldredge and Chase Rice
• WHEN: March 20; doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m.
• WHERE: Northern Illinois University Convocation Center, 1525 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb
• TICKETS: $28.50 to $35.50; available at the center box office, Ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000.