Country Star Brad Paisley Tributes Success to 'Guitar Gods' and Grandfather

PHOTO: Country music star Brad Paisley sits down for an interview with ABCs Andrea Canning for "Nightline."
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Brad Paisley, a country music star with 20 number one hits, three Grammys and a CMA's Entertainer of the Year crown under his belt, has more than enough bragging rights to stake his claim in superstardom -- but instead he just wants to say thanks to those who got him there.

The singer-songwriter's new book, "Diary of a Player: How My Musical Heroes Made a Guitar Man Out of Me," is an ode to those who helped him become a mega-hit country star -- "a salute to the guitar gods of country, blues, and rock & roll who have shaped his life," it says. The book is in stores today.

Book cover for Brad Paisley's "Diary of a Player." Credit: Howard Books

It's clear that the 39-year-old singer-songwriter is more focused on loyalty and making people laugh, than getting caught up in the throes of fame -- he revealed he and fellow country superstar Carrie Underwood have already started working on funny skits for this year's Country Music Awards, which the duo will host for the fourth time.

To learn more about Paisley and the 2012 "Keep the Music Playing" Chevrolet Camaro auction, visit CMAWorld.com.

And no hot-button issue will be off-limits for them, including Hank Williams Jr., whose controversial comments about President Obama resulted in having his song yanked from ESPN's "Monday Night Football" broadcast.

"I know Hank really well," Paisley said. "He shouldn't have said what he said, but I know Hank, and I like Hank. Let's figure something out he can do to make up for it, if that fits, so he can come back."

But the idea of being famous doesn't seem to resonate with Paisley. In fact, his 2003 hit song "Celebrity" pokes fun at the trite of Hollywood with lyrics like, "When they say I'm insane, I'll blame it on the fame."

He wrote that song, he says, because at the time reality shows were "all over the place."

"'Fear Factor,' 'The Bachelor,' I think, and 'American Idol' was just starting," Paisley said. "Let's be honest. The reason you want to be on are for the perks, and the song is all about that."

In short, this country music star, who has played for the president and hundreds of thousands of fans, is the anti-celebrity. His only vice, he admits, is a six-string guitar.

"I don't have, you know, an 'overcoming addiction' story, other than the guitar itself, and I haven't overcome that," Paisley said. "I don't have a jail time, you know, story, or any arrests."

READ: Brad Paisley Behind the Scenes

He continued, laughing, "I got pulled over the other day for suspected DUI, which was funny because I had -- we had been to get ice cream with my two sons in the car ... then my kids -- it was the greatest thing that's ever happened -- they ran through the house when we got home, telling everybody, that -- we had some friends over -- that Daddy got arrested."

The irony lies in the fact that Paisley does not drink -- ever.

Paisley said he owes his grounded nature to his grandfather, Warren Jarvis, who gave him his first guitar when Paisley was just 8 years old, a Sears Danelectro Silvertone that Jarvis ordered from the department store's catalogue.

"He said, 'You can play this instrument and three or four hours later, not remember what you were upset about,'" Paisley said of his grandfather. "And that's all he wanted. He didn't care if I was ever, you know, successful. He wanted me to be happy."

Jarvis passed away when Paisley was 13, but has remained an anchor in his life. The singer also pays tribute to Jarvis in his book.

"I take his talent and his passion with me -- to the stage of the Opry, to the podium at the CMA Awards, to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, into my own living room," Paisley said. "I am the realization of my grandfather's dream. I am a player."

Young Brad Paisley with his grandfather Warren Jarvis. Credit: Courtesy Brad Paisley

While Paisley got his first big break in 1999 with the song, "Who Needs Pictures," that won him a CMA for "Top New Male Vocalist of the Year," it was a rocky road getting from the hills of West Virginia to Nashville's Music Row, the famed street where the biggest names in country music record.

Originally from Glen Dale, W.Va., Paisley almost quit country music a number of times and things didn't go so well for him at the local college, Belmont University.

"They send me to Nashville with these lofty goals of being a big guitar player, and the one class I get a D in, I remember my dad, he was so furious," Paisley said, chuckling.

One of his more recent hits is "Waitin' on a Woman," but this songwriter couldn't have scripted a better love story than his own real life version with actress Kimberly Williams Paisley, the daughter in the "Father of the Bride" movies.

Paisley had gone to see the sequel alone hoping his ex-girlfriend at the time would meet him at the theater and rekindle their relationship. The ex didn't show, and that's when Paisley's attention focused on the woman on the silver screen in front of him.

"That's a weird feeling because I know in my heart what really happened, which was, I went to see that movie, didn't work out, and then, really, just had this idea later -- I either want somebody just like the girl in that, or literally, I remember thinking, that's who I belong with. It was as clear as that," he explained.

Paisley's plan for getting the movie star's attention was to ask her to be in his music video for "I'm Gonna Miss Her." The couple started dating in 2001 and married in 2003. They have two sons, Huck, 4, and Jasper, 2.

Now the owner of his own recording studio and mentor to new country artists -- Paisley co-wrote "What If She Is" with up-and-comer Brent Anderson -- the singer lives by the mantra that it takes 10,000 hours to become really good at something.

"There are some people who drink, who seek counseling, eat, or watch TV, cry, sleep, and so on," Paisley writes in his book. "I play."

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