On April 12, 1997, Travis Tritt married Theresa Nelson, a Nashville-based student-slash-model. At the time, the idea that country’s bad boy was settling down was a surprise to many — including Tritt himself.
“Living up to my image was never tough. Because that’s who I was. I was a rowdy, outlaw, hell-bent-for-leather guy,” he told Country Weekly in 2000, during a revealing interview in which he also talked about his one-time cocaine habit and penchant for sleeping around. “I’d made my mind up — I was a bachelor for life!”
The “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)” singer came by his aversion to weddings honestly, however: Before marrying Nelson, Tritt had been married twice — to his high school sweetheart, Karen Ryon, and later to a woman named Jodi Barnett — and so by then, he “figured I wasn’t very good at [marriage].”
“Marty Stuart and I even had a ‘pep talk’ about it,” Tritt says in the same Country Weekly piece. “We agreed, we’re better off staying single.”
Ironically, Stuart was actually pivotal to Tritt and Nelson meeting each other: On Feb. 8, 1995, the country stars were celebrating Tritt’s birthday at a Nashville restaurant. Also at the celebration was Nelson, who stuck out from the crowd.
“I saw a sincere sweetness in her that stuck out from all the women I had ever met,” Tritt recalls.
Their conversation that night turned into phone chats (“I was no dummy,” he admits. “I got her phone number and started calling her.”) and then a long-distance relationship, until Nelson moved to Atlanta to be with Tritt. But being apart was hard; in fact, Tritt wrote the Top 5 hit “More Than You’ll Ever Know” in the early stages of their courtship.
“We were apart for about two weeks after having been together practically every day for three months, and I missed her much more than I thought I was going to — and much more than I wanted to let myself miss her,” Tritt told the Chicago Tribune in 1996. “[The band and I] were out in the middle of East Bumble-somewhere, and my cellular phone wasn’t working, so I’d get off the stage and couldn’t call her, and I’d be wondering what she was up to and if she was feeling anywhere close to as miserable as I was.”
Today, Tritt and Nelson have three kids, and as the pair celebrates 19 years together, it’s clear that their love is the kind that endures.
“Travis and I are best friends,” Nelson told Country Weekly in 2000. “We do everything together. People ask us, ‘How can you two spend that much time together? Don’t you get sick of each other?’ But we don’t. We’re buddies.”