‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ singer Oliver Anthony shares personal history

Published 10:14 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

We know Oliver Anthony can write a country song. But what do we know about the man himself? The ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ singer filled in some of those blanks on Thursday, Aug. 17, with a post on his social media accounts.

“I’m sitting in such a weird place in my life right now,” Anthony wrote. “I never wanted to be a full-time musician, much less sit at the top of the iTunes charts. Draven from RadioWv and I filmed these tunes on my land with the hope that it may hit 300k views. I still don’t quite believe what has went on since we uploaded that. It’s just strange to me.”

What’s happened is that his song “Rich Men North of Richmond” blew up, rising to Number One on the iTunes download chart. As of Aug. 17, it was still in first, followed by “Love Me Again” by V and then another Anthony song, “Aint Gotta Dollar” in third. Five of his other songs made it into the Top 20 for the week ending Aug. 18 as well. “Rich Men North of Richmond” is starting to make it onto country music radio as well, which means it’ll soon qualify for the Billboard Top 100 chart.

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In his social media post, Anthony said he wasn’t looking for a millionaire lifestyle. 

“People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers,” Anthony wrote. “I don’t want 6 tour buses, 15 tractor trailers and a jet. I don’t want to play stadium shows, I don’t want to be in the spotlight.” 

‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ and other songs

Anthony said that he wrote this music for his mental health, as he was dealing with depression. And he believes they connect with people because listeners know he believes what he’s singing. 

“These songs have connected with millions of people on such a deep level because they’re being sung by someone feeling the words in the very moment they were being sung,” Anthony wrote. “No editing, no agent, no bulls***. Just some idiot and his guitar. The style of music that we should have never gotten away from in the first place.” 

He’s popping up in a number of places, including a concert here in Farmville set for Wednesday, Aug. 23 that sold out within five minutes. In addition to that visit to the North Street Press Club, Anthony has been added to the Blue Ridge Rock Festival in Alton next month, including both an acoustic set and a performance on the main stage. 

With all that in mind, Anthony shared some information about himself in his social media post, giving more insight into his background. 

Who is Oliver Anthony? 

First off, Anthony wrote, his legal name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford. His musical handle was done as a tribute. 

“My grandfather was Oliver Anthony, and “Oliver Anthony Music” is a dedication not only to him, but 1930’s Appalachia where he was born and raised,” Anthony said. “Dirt floors, seven kids, hard times. At this point, I’ll gladly go by Oliver because everyone knows me as such. But my friends and family still call me Chris. You can decide for yourself, either is fine.” 

Anthony said he dropped out of school at age 17 in 2010, later earning his GED in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. 

“I worked multiple plant jobs in Western NC,” Anthony wrote, “my last being at the paper mill in McDowell County. I worked 3rd shift, 6 days a week for $14.50 an hour in a living hell. In 2013, I had a bad fall at work and fractured my skull. It forced me to move back home to Virginia. Due to complications from the injury, it took me 6 months or so before I could work again.”

Anthony said from 2014 until earlier in August, he worked outside sales in the industrial manufacturing world. 

“My job has taken me all over Virginia and into the Carolinas, getting to know tens of thousands of other blue collar workers on job sites and in factories,” Anthony said. “I’ve spent all day, everyday, for the last 10 years hearing the same story. People are so d*** tired of being neglected, divided and manipulated.”

As for where he lives now in Prince Edward County, Anthony said he paid $97,500 for the property in 2019 and still owes about $60,000 on it. Currently, he says he’s living in a 27′ camper with a tarp on the roof that he got off of craigslist for $750.

‘There’s nothing special about me’ 

That’s what Anthony emphasizes in his comments. He doesn’t want people to put him on a pedestal. 

“There’s nothing special about me,” he wrote. “I’m not a good musician, I’m not a very good person. I’ve spent the last 5 years struggling with mental health and using alcohol to drown it. I am sad to see the world in the state it’s in, with everyone fighting with each other. I have spent many nights feeling hopeless, that the greatest country on Earth is quickly fading away.”

In his post, Anthony added he hates the way the internet has divided everyone. 

“The Internet is a parasite that infects the minds of humans and has their way with them,” he wrote. “Hours wasted, goals forgotten, loved ones sitting in houses with each other distracted all day by technology made by the hands of other poor souls in sweat shops in a foreign land.”

He also pointed out that millions have died protecting the liberties we enjoy right now. 

“Freedom of speech is such a precious gift,” he wrote. “Never in world history has the world had the freedom it currently does. Don’t let them take it away from you. Just like those once wandering in the desert, we have lost our way from God and have let false idols distract us and divide us. It’s a d*** shame.”