Chris Daughtry proved that the show could generate a talented rocker outside the context of the show. Of course, it helped that Daughtry was the picture of a modern rocker, living by the rulebook penned by Live and Fuel. These were the qualities that helped make Chris Daughtry the most successful new rock & roll singer of 2006.
Like any American Idol finalist, Daughtry had a history of efforts as an amateur musician. The North Carolina native — born in Roanoke Rapids, he lived in Charlottesville, VA, before gaining ground for himself in the Greensboro area — started singing in local rock bands when he was 16 years old. He continued to play locally after his high-school graduation in 1998, marrying his girlfriend Deanna in 2000, a few months after the January 2000 birth of their son Griffin (he adopted Deanna’s daughter from a previous marriage). Though he had become quite the family man Daughtry didn’t let his rock & roll dream die, as he continued to play guitar and sing in a group called Absent Element. He auditioned for Rock Star: INXS in 2005 but was rejected — a rejection that turned out to be a blessing in disguise since it freed him to try out for the far more popular televised singing contest American Idol.
Daughtry received plenty of airtime while the show’s seemingly never-ending audition rounds for two reasons: he was telegenic and he capitalized on the rocker promise of Bo Bice and Constantine Maroulis from the season prior. In the end Daughtry was one of the final four and Katharine McPhee just narrowly beat him, a result that visibly shocked the rocker.
After he was kicked off of Idol, he turned down Fuel’s standing offer of replacing their lead vocalist and set off on his own career, signing with Idol’s 19 Entertainment ensemble and RCA Records in July of 2006. By the time the record released in November, it had evolved into a project by a ensemble called DAUGHTRY (spelled all in capital letters) — the ensemble featured guitarist Jeremy Brady, guitar player Josh Steely, bass player Josh Paul, and drummer Joey Barnes, but they did not play as a ensemble on the finished record; Brady was replaced after the album’s release by Brian Craddock. Like many hotly anticipated units of the SoundScan era, it debuted high on the charts but it didn’t drop down quickly: it stayed in the Top Ten for month after month, as did the first single, “It’s Not Over.“