The Mississippi hard rock band 3 Doors Down will be remembered for many things — selling more than 20 million albums, three Grammy nominations, entertaining U.S. troops overseas and founding a nonprofit called The Better Life Foundation to aid children in need.
And the band performed at President Donald Trump’s inauguration last January when other entertainers pulled out, including singer Jennifer Holliday, Bruce Springsteen cover band The B Street Band pulled out. In addition, DJ Moby and British singers Rebecca Ferguson and Charlotte Church refused invitations to perform at the inauguration.
While 3 Doors Down — which will bring its “Back Porch Jam” tour to Santa Rosa next week — drew some criticism for performing at Lincoln Memorial on Trump’s big day, the band’s motivation for going ahead with it was simple.
“They asked us,” said 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson, speaking by phone from Nashville. “We already knew we were going to do it, no matter what anybody said.”
For the record, 3 Doors Down hardly had to go it alone that day. Country singers Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and others also performed at the inauguration. As for Trump’s subsequent dispute with mainstream media over the size of the crowd on Jan. 20, with the new president claiming record attendance, Henderson could only say it looked like a lot of people to him.
“It was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen,” Henderson said. “There were people out there as I far as I could see. I could see half a mile and it was packed. Whoever said there weren’t lot of people there was crazy, because I was there.”
Accepting an invitation from the President — or a President-elect at that point — would naturally seem to 3 Doors Down like just a natural extension of the band’s traditional take on patriotism.
“We filmed a video on top of the (aircraft carrier) USS George Washington, but it goes way deeper than that for us. I served 12 years in the Navy myself. My dad’s a veteran. I can trace one of my ancestors in every war that America’s ever fought in, from the very first one. It’s in my blood to serve,” said Henderson, 46.
“A lot of people support the troops and it’s awesome that they do,” he added, “but we’ve been doing it a long time. We were doing it when it wasn’t cool. It’s just about what was right and what was wrong, for us.”
The band first formed in 1996, and was founded by singer and drummer Brad Arnold, bassist Todd Harell and guitarist Matt Roberts. Henderson joined in 1998.
The first studio album by 3 Doors Down, “The Better Life,” came out in 2000, and sold three million copies, scoring hits with the hit singles “Kryptonite,” “Loser” and “Duck and Run.” The band’s sixth and most recent album, “Us and the Night,” was released in 2016.
The group has had its tragedies and turnover. Roberts left the band in 2012 and died in 2016 from a prescription drug overdose. Harrell was charged with vehicular homicide in 2013 for reportedly driving under the influence of prescription medication and causing an accident that killed a man. Harrell was dropped by the band in early 2014 after another DUI arrest, and was sentenced in 2015 to two years in prison and six years of probation.