In 2006, Eric Church infamously found himself kicked off Rascal FlattsMe and My Gang Tour, after repeatedly pushing the limits of his deal as their opening act. That story has been re-told plenty in the years since, but a classic rocker's role in what happened after is less well-known.

"There were a lot of rules ... [and] I disobeyed those rules," Church explains of the Rascal Flatts incident in a recent Apple Music interview, joking that his replacement was "some artist named Taylor Swift ... I don't know if she did okay or not."

Swift was a new artist, too, back then, and the Flatts tour was a big break for her. The country-turned-pop superstar would later send Church a Gold album with a note that read, "Thanks for playing too long and too loud on the Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it. Taylor," as a gesture of appreciation.

Nonetheless, Church hadn't done himself any favors by losing his gig with the Flatts, especially after they gave him multiple chances to adhere to the rules. "After that happened, I was in a real not-good spot as a brand-new country music artist. I think they were the biggest tour at the time, and we got fired," he says.

That's when Bob Seger called. According to Church, the "Night Moves" singer told the country newbie that he loved his album and offered Church a 45-minute opening slot.

"At that time, I was getting 15 minutes to play in front of Rascal Flatts," Church says. "My record was 40 minutes long. I had to figure out a song. I didn't have 45 minutes, I can't even play that long."

It was a big deal. Church doesn't downplay Seger's role in keeping his fledgling career afloat, either: "He, in a lot of ways, saved my career. But, more importantly, he saved my faith in music," he reflects.

"He was just a guy that ... I'll never forget, my mom and dad, big Seger fans. And our first show was in Cincinnati, Ohio. And after the Flatts thing happened, I took a lot of flak, at least in the country music community. And I walked out there and I played, and then Seger came out and played "Roll Me Away." That was his opening song," Church continues. "And my mom and my dad were next to me, and I just remember that moment with my parents, and watching Bob walk out there. So, I have a special place in my heart for Bob."

With that little bit of help from Seger, Church went on to become a force within country music. The reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, he'll release Soul, his third record in a three-album series titled Heart & Soul, on Friday (April 23).

For the record, a decade and a half later, there's no beef between Rascal Flatts and Church. In 2014, Flatts member Jay DeMarcus tweeted that the whole thing was "ancient history," and that he and bandmates Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney are "very proud of what he's done."

More About Eric Church's Short Time on the Road With Rascal Flatts:

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