Joe Don Rooney is coming clean. The former Rascal Flatts member has long been embattled with legal issues, alcoholism, and rampant rumors about his sexuality. And for the first time in a long time, he is speaking up.
“I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted on any socials. It’s actually been a couple years since I’ve engaged with fans and friends on Twitter (now X) or Instagram. But I figured today, at the beginning of this brand new year 2024, would be a good day to send a message out to the world,” he shared on the social media platform on Wednesday, January 3.
Rooney first addressed his September 2021 DUI accident, in which the singer drove into a tree in the early hours of the morning on his way home just outside of Nashville. He was booked into the Williamson County Jail overnight and later served 48 additional hours after a judge found him guilty of first-time DUI. In the lengthy social media post, Rooney credited the accident with helping him to get sober.
“Fortunately, (and I truly believe this,) God lead me into that tree safely enough to not kill me – and luckily nobody else was involved and I didn’t injure or kill anyone. I could literally be in a Federal Prison for life right now. That is the reality of what my life had become. That event lead me to treatment for my alcoholism for 4 months in the beautiful mountains of Utah,” he posted. “And btw, going to jail sucks!”
Rooney went on to share that treatment changed his life “forever” and that January marks 28 months of sobriety.
The singer, whose divorce from wife Tiffany Fallon was finalized last fall (the couple welcomed three children during their 17-year union), also shared that he needs “to protect my family and protect my sobriety. I have new healthy boundaries for the first time in my life. Only positive, loving, caring & understanding people may enter.”
Rooney and Fallon had a tumultuous relationship, and their divorce played out in court for several years. Fallon filed for separation in 2021, and Rooney’s alcoholism, the demise of Rascal Flatts in 2020 and extramarital affairs by both parties were all cited as reasons for the couple’s separation.
On Wednesday, Rooney also took a moment to shut down a rumor that’s been widely circulated online. In 2023, former radio DJs Tony and Kris posted a video that was widely circulated on TikTok suggesting that a male country star was transitioning. Fans in the comments were quick to suggest Rooney, and in subsequent posts, the duo fueled the theories.
“There have been so many rumors and opinions thrown around about me – but I’m finally healthy and ready for the world. And NO, I’m not transitioning to be a woman. That thought has never entered my mind,” he concluded. “Nothing against the trans community whatsoever but I needed to set the record straight.”
Rascal Flatts, which also included Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus, officially broke up in 2021. The trio had announced a 2020 farewell tour in January of that year, but were never able to perform a show due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lead singer LeVox would later say that Rooney quit the band first, which ultimately led to the breakup, though bandmate DeMarcus said each of the members had quit at one point in the band’s career and that no one person should be blamed. The trio remains one of the most successful in country music history, selling more than 10 million concert tickets over their 20-year career and winning numerous awards, including a Grammy award for their hit “Bless the Broken Road.”