Who is Oliver Anthony? The relatively unknown singer went from lamenting blue-collar life to turning down six-figure stadium deals. But who is the singer behind “Rich Men North of Richmond?”
“I’ve been sellin’ my soul, workin’ all day / Overtime hours for bullsh*t pay—” is the opening line of the song which has wracked up over 28 million views in the two short weeks it has been online. It is the most streamed song in America on the iTunes platform, quickly rising to the top of the charts. The song expresses frustration with the country in a way that has pundits both left and right dissecting the song’s lyrics.
Oliver Anthony himself says the transition has been difficult for him to manage. “I’m sitting in such a weird place in my life right now. 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 300,000 views. I still don’t quite believe what has went on since we uploaded that. It’s just strange to me.”
The Farmville, Virginia native’s real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford. He says the stage name Oliver Anthony is an homage to his grandfather, who was born and raised in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia in the 1930s. “Dirt floors, seven kids, hard times,” is how he describes the life his grandpa lived, before sharing a little bit more about himself.
“In 2010, I dropped out of high school at age 17. I have a GED from Spruce Pine, NC. I worked multiple plant jobs in Western NC, my last being at the paper mill in McDowell County. I worked third shift, six days a week, for $14.50 an hour in a living hell.” Lunsford has also shared he suffered a skull fracture in 2013 that forced him to move back home to Virginia.
He says while recovering from that injury, he began to travel and meet other blue-collar workers who shared the same woes. “People are so damn tired of being neglected, divided, and manipulated,” the singer shared on his Facebook page. He’s currently living on a piece of property he bought in 2019 in a 27-foot camper van.
“There’s nothing special about me. I’m not a good musician. I’m not a very good person. I’ve spent the last five years struggling with mental health and using alcohol to drown it,” he continues.