Richie McDonald has made some tough decisions when it comes to his music career but rejoining Lonestar wasn't one of them.In 2007 McDonald chose to walk away from Lonestar, at the time one of the top groups in country music, to spend more time with his young family. He traded the days of 150 nights on the road for the duties of a stayat-home dad.
While he did work as a solo artist - he released I Turned To You, a gospel album, in 2008 and Slowdown, in 2010 - McDonald focused on his life with his wife Lorie and his three children.
Lonestar continued to tour and record with Cody Collins stepping into Mc-Donald's role as lead singer. But some reflection by Mc-Donald led to him reaching out to his former bandmates in 2010 and eventually rejoining the band in 2011.
"There was some time that I really needed to sort some things out and spend time with my family but I think after a few years I started thinking that some things were meant to be and the four of us together on stage was one of those," McDonald explained in a recent telephone interview. "I remember reaching out to Keech (Rainwater), our drummer, one night on Facebook and I said, 'If you're all interested in getting back together and doing a reunion tour or something like that, I'm up for it.' It was about a year after that when we talked.
"We got together and decided the four of us are better together than we are apart."
During his initial run with Lonestar, the band sold 10 million albums and collected nine No. 1 singles - No News, Come Cryin' To Me, Amazed, Smile, What About Now, Tell Her, I'm Already There, My Front Porch Looking In and Mr. Mom.
Walking away from such a successful band and his longtime friends and bandmates Rainwater, Michael Britt and Dean Sams wasn't easy for McDonald but he stressed he has no regrets with that decision.
"I don't really have any regrets because I got to make up that time with my family. It was selfish, in a way, to the guys," said McDonald. "(The kids) don't stay little carrot tops and little blue-eyed blonds forever. My son, who inspired I'm Already There, it seems likes only yesterday we had that conversation and now he's graduated high school.
"Time really does fly by." Collins did an admirable job replacing McDonald who is grateful for his contributions to Lonestar. "When I left, the guys had families to take care of and a passion to still do music and if it wasn't for Cody, who knows?," said McDonald. "He kind of carried the torch for the brand for Lonestar for the years that I was out of the group. I'm thankful to him.
"He's very talented but fans would come to shows and they would hear somebody else with a different voice singing I'm Already There or Amazed and although it wasn't bad, it wasn't what they were used to hearing."
Lonestar headed to the recording studio upon McDonald's return and released Life As We Know It on June 4, 2013. The band then hit the road to support that album and when McDonald was asked if Lonestar was where it wanted to be, he had a definitive answer.
"Absolutely. We couldn't have asked for this to turn out any better," said McDonald. "The fans have received us with open arms, they've been loyal to us for over 20 years. We realize we're not spring chickens anymore but we still have a passion to play Lonestar music and still go back into the studio and record new albums and give them new music.
"As long as we still have a passion to do that, and are willing to get back on that bus for 65 or 70 shows a year, we're going to do it for as long as we can."