Over the course of just a few days, Oliver Anthony shook up the iTunes charts in a way never seen before.
A former Virginia factory worker, Oliver Anthony didn’t anticipate how much his life would change when he wrote “Rich Men North of Richmond.” Anthony occasionally posted videos to YouTube of his original songs, written and recorded on his rural Virginia farm and filmed with his cell phone.
RadioWV can be credited with introducing the world to Oliver’s song “Rich Men North of Richmond.” On August 8, the outlet shared his video on YouTube, the first video he recorded using a “real mic and camera,” and he immediately went viral. In less than a week, the video was viewed nearly 9 million times on YouTube alone.
Two days later, Anthony uploaded the song, and a few others, to streaming platforms. Within a matter of days, Oliver Anthony found himself with 5 songs in the all-genre iTunes Top Songs top 10, beating out Jason Aldean, Morgan Wallen, and even Taylor Swift.
So, who is Oliver Anthony?
In a video posted online prior to the release of his “Rich Men North of Richmond video, Anthony shared his story. The singer told soon-to-be fans that he started writing his own music in 2021, but was spending a lot of nights “getting high and getting drunk.” He added that he got a place where “things that I did care about didn’t mean anything to me anymore.”
Music became Oliver’s saving grace. He began to write more and upload more songs to YouTube. As response to his music grew, so did his confidence that he could make a living writing and sharing his own songs.
Following his sudden viral success, Oliver Anthony scheduled his first public gig, and the response was overwhelming.
On Sunday, August 13, Oliver Anthony appeared at the Morris Farm Market in Currituck, North Carolina. To his surprise, thousands of people showed up to hear him sing and meet him.
In a post made to Twitter following the hour-long concert, Anthony said that fans filled 25 acres with cars for his first gig.
Ya’ll filled 25 acres with cars for the first-ever gig! I am so proud to be a part of this moment in history.
Thanks to everyone who stayed after for photos and to tell me your story. It means more than words can describe.
If you couldn’t make it 👇https://t.co/MxIxa6UEX4
— Oliver Anthony (@AintGottaDollar) August 14, 2023
Fan videos show Anthony set up with his guitar under a modest, roughly built covering surrounded by people who were cramming the space to get a good view of his performance. Before the farmer began to sing, he read Psalm 37 from the Bible, a passage about the fall of wicked men.
JUST IN: Oliver Anthony shares a verse from the Bible in his first public appearance since going viral for his ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ song.
“Before we start singing, and I mean we, ’cause I hope y’all are gonna be singing too. I just had something I felt compelled to share… pic.twitter.com/zqJb7tDkvc
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) August 13, 2023
Watch the YouTube video that launched Oliver Anthony’s unlikely music career below.