Oliver Anthony’s family are breaking their silence on the viral sensation, telling The Post how he is a fine father who quit his job selling aluminum siding to pursue music — to spectacular effect.
Anthony gave his first major interview to podcaster Joe Rogan on Wednesday. In a free-wheeling two-hour appearance he laughed off attempts to pigeonhole him politically and decried how hard life has become for people in forgotten rural areas.
He largely stayed clear of talking about his own family and background, apart from saying he is hoping someone will buy his battered truck, and alluding to his own personal struggles with substance abuse.
But his wife Tiffany’s grandfather, Arthur Brogdon, told The Post of their pride at his success, calling him a dedicated family man.
The “Rich Men North of Richmond” singer’s real name is Chris Lunsford. He took his stage from his late grandfather Anthony Oliver Ingle, who died in 2019.
Brogdon told The Post that Anthony met Tiffany online, after difficult times for both of them. Anthony had a “bad first marriage,” Brogdon said, while Tiffany had had a boyfriend who was badly injured in a car accident.
“She and Chris define happiness. They’re happy. They’re something else,” he said.
“Chris is a religious type person. He doesn’t cuss or make threats. He is just a fine person.”
Anthony has an 18-month-old daughter with Tiffany, 35, and the couple is expecting a son in November. “Her name is June. I call her Junebug,” the grandfather said of the toddler. “She’ll be 2 in February.”
The two now live in Ingle’s former home in south-central Virginia. Anthony, 31, has an older daughter from his first marriage.
Brogdon remembered Anthony and Tiffany’s wedding as a stellar affair – even though Anthony did not treat the guests to a performance.
“The wedding was wonderful. It was outside. Around 100 people were there on a farm in Dinwiddie County,” he said. Chris and Tiffany had their dogs there and afterward, they went down to the lodge and fed everyone. There was a food truck. We ordered our meals ahead of time; I had a Philadelphia cheese steak.”
When Anthony is not performing, he and his wife do more than just hang around the home or the trailer. “They are an outdoor couple,” Brogdon said. “They go kayaking; they have horses; they ride ATVs. They love each other.”
And there is no stress in dealing with the dogs that populate the videos that Anthony has posted to social media. Tiffany, said Brogdon, “wants to be a veterinarian. The dogs are trained to the max. She feeds them individually. They don’t eat until she tells them to.”
Before “Rich Men North of Richmond” topped the Billboard charts, said Brogdon, Anthony “sold [materials] for buildings and stuff. He made a good living. He is dedicated to everything he does.”
The singer quit his job with construction supplier Chesterfield Trading Co., of Richmond, Va., last year to work full-time on his music. He had been part of its sales team, responsible for selling aluminum siding.
Anthony became an overnight sensation at the start of August with “Rich Men North of Richmond” thanks to YouTube, although he told Rogan he largely steers clear of social media.
He attracted fierce support for his heart-felt lyrics and was embraced by conservatives for his demand for less government dependency, but rejected being conscripted by one side or the other after Republican presidential candidates were asked about his song at last week’s first primary debate.
On Rogan’s show he said he wanted people to understand that “Throughout rural Virginia, that poverty is a big issue, and drugs are a big issue, and I mean it’s not just even in the rural areas, and you go into downtown Richmond or any downtown anywhere for that matter.”
He also offered some insight into his own mental health journey, saying he “went on a run with SSRIs” but the side effects weren’t worth it.
Anthony has said he lives in a camper covered with a tarp which he bought for $750. His grandfather-in-law said he lived on the home he inherited from his own grandfather, but had been so mobbed by fans he had been unable to go home at times.
“Because everybody is infringing on his privacy, he had to put in a security system. Hell, he couldn’t even go home,” Brogden said.
“Chris is a laid-back type person who doesn’t say much. He says more on stage than he does to us. When he comes here, he doesn’t say much.”
Asked about how Anthony got so good on the guitar, Brogdon isn’t sure that musicianship is a factor to his success: “I don’t think he can play good. If you listen, he mixes in the words with the plunking.”
As Brogdon sees it, the words are the point. “I listen to Chris’s music every day. I didn’t like it at first,” he said. But his view changed when he learned more about the subject matter.
“It’s all true,” he said. “He goes up to Farmville to play and I listen to it on the phone.”
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