Oliver Anthony’s ‘Rich Men North Of Richmond’ Makes Historic No. 1 Debut On Billboard Hot 100

The former factory worker is the first artist in history to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with no prior chart history.

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

August 21, 2023

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Oliver Anthony; Photo Courtesy radiowv on YouTube

Oliver Anthony, whose real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford, has made Billboard chart history with his viral hit “Rich Men North Of Richmond.”

The 31-year-old Virginia native has officially earned his first-ever No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with “Rich Men North of Richmond.”

Making History

The viral hitmaker has become the first artist in history to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with no prior chart history “in any form,” according to a report from Billboard.

YouTube video

This achievement makes Oliver Anthony the first unsigned artist since 1994 to be No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The last unsigned artist to earn a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 was Lisa Loeb with her single, “Stay (I Missed You),” which was released in 1994 via RCA Records. 

A No.1 Debut

According to Billboard, “Rich Men North Of Richmond” marks “the 1,153rd song to top the Hot 100 over the chart’s 65-year history, and the 69th to debut at No. 1.”

He Reacts

Oliver Anthony shared his reaction to the chart-topping success of his blue-collar anthem, exclusively with Billboard.

“The hopelessness and frustration of our times resonate in the response to this song,” he told the outlet. ”The song itself is not anything special, but the people who have supported it are incredible and deserve to be heard.”

The news comes after he introduced himself to fans and shared his response to the success of the “Rich Men North Of Richmond” performance video, which has amassed over 30 million views since its debut, via a lengthy and revealing social media post.

Response To The Song

“I’m sitting in such a weird place in my life right now,” he wrote and admitted that he never anticipated that the song would get more than a few hundred thousand views. 

“I still don’t quite believe what has went on since we uploaded that. It’s just strange to me,” he wrote. 

In the days since the song began to go viral, Anthony said he received more than 50,000 messages reacting to the song and how it speaks to the hardships that people face. 

The success of the song also came with business offers, some of which have been extremely lucrative, however, Anthony said he’s not interested in any of it. 

“People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers. I don’t want 6 tour buses, 15 tractor trailers and a jet. I don’t want to play stadium shows, I don’t want to be in the spotlight,” he explained. “I wrote the music I wrote because I was suffering with mental health and depression. These songs have connected with millions of people on such a deep level because they’re being sung by someone feeling the words in the very moment they were being sung. No editing, no agent, no bullshit. Just some idiot and his guitar. The style of music that we should have never gotten away from in the first place.” 

Oliver Anthony; Photo Courtesy radiowv on YouTube
Oliver Anthony; Photo Courtesy radiowv on YouTube

Honest Message

He went on to share his brutally honest opinion of himself and the United States of America. 

“There’s nothing special about me. I’m not a good musician, I’m not a very good person. I’ve spent the last 5 years struggling with mental health and using alcohol to drown it. I am sad to see the world in the state it’s in, with everyone fighting with each other. I have spent many nights feeling hopeless, that the greatest country on Earth is quickly fading away,” he stated. 

His life experiences led him to write “Rich Men North of Richmond,” detailing the struggles of the working class in the face of wealthy individuals driven by greed, and in his lengthy message to his followers, he recalled dropping out of high school at 17, earning his GED and working in plant jobs in North Carolina for $14.50 an hour. He also shared the story of an injury that sidelined him from his job for six months and how his latest job allowed him to speak to working-class individuals who are fed up with the cards they’ve been dealt.     

Oliver Anthony; Photo Courtesy Facebook, Oliver Anthony Music
Oliver Anthony; Photo Courtesy Facebook, Oliver Anthony Music

“From 2014 until just a few days ago, I’ve worked outside sales in the industrial manufacturing world. My job has taken me all over Virginia and into the Carolinas, getting to know tens of thousands of other blue collar workers on job sites and in factories. I’ve spent all day, everyday, for the last 10 years hearing the same story. People are SO damn tired of being neglected, divided and manipulated,” he wrote. 

A Blue Collar Anthem

He went on to question, “When is enough, enough? When are we going to fight for what is right again?” 

He closed his post with a reminder about freedom of speech and the liberties Americans have been granted thanks to those who died to protect them. 

“Never in world history has the world had the freedom it currently does. Don’t let them take it away from you. Just like those once wandering in the desert, we have lost our way from God and have let false idols distract us and divide us. It’s a damn shame.”

Upcoming Performance

Additionally, Oliver Anthony will soon make his third public appearance since going viral at North Street Press Club in Farmville, Virginia on Wednesday, August 23 from 7-8pm. He will also host a meet-and-greet and poster signing after the show.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.