joe don rooney rascal flatts guitarist addresses time away from spotlight slams transition rumors

Joe Don Rooney, the guitarist of the now defunct country band Rascal Flatts, took to social media to address his evident absence from the limelight, and refute extreme rumors swirling around his gender identity. 

“I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted,” the musician wrote on Wednesday. “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.”

“First off, I am alive! 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. Nothing against the trans community whatsoever but I needed to set the record straight,” he emphasized.

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Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney and Jay Demarcus started the country band Rascal Flatts in 1999. (Chance Yeh/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

A representative for the former band did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for further explanation of the rumor’s origin. In 2020, the band announced their farewell tour right before the COVID-19 pandemic began. They eventually canceled all performances. 

The members, lead singer Gary LeVox, pianist Jay Demarcus and Rooney, officially disbanded in 2021 after more than two decades playing together. LeVox previously claimed that Rooney quit the group, telling People magazine he hated how the group dismantled.

Joe Don Rooney in a red shirt, Gary LeVox in a white jacket and pants and Jay DeMarcus in a dark shirt perform together on stage in Tennessee

Rascal Flatts disbanded in 2021. Lead singer Gary LeVox previously stated that he hated how the band dismantled. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

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In 2021, Rooney was arrested for a DUI and sentenced to time in jail. He acknowledged the hardship in his statement, writing, “I ran square into a tree and about killed myself.” Adding that he was “so far gone” with his life, he finally sought help.

“That event lead me to treatment for my alcoholism for 4 months in the beautiful mountains of Utah. When I first got there, I didn’t want to stay. I was ashamed of myself. I was so full of fear and guilt, that it took me all of the those 4 months to really start understanding treatment and the AA way and how to best utilize these new tools that I downloaded from the amazing clinicians, counselors and other patients there. My life has been changed forever – and I’m grateful for the change. I’ve been sober now for almost 28 months come this Jan 13,” he revealed.

Mugshot of Joe Don Rooney of Rascal Flatts against a bright blue backdrop

Joe Don Rooney was charged with a DUI in 2021 after crashing his car into a tree. (Williamson County Sheriff’s Office)

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In retrospect, Rooney says he “was not a good father – I was not a good husband – and I was not a good band mate to my business partners. I probably would’ve never taken responsibility for any of this if it hadn’t been for my car wreck on Sep 9, 2021. And btw, going to jail sucks!” 

Rooney was released after two days in jail, although sentenced to a year. He and his wife, former beauty queen Tiffany Fallon, separated in 2021, finalizing their divorce last year. The couple shares three children.

Joe Don Rooney in a printed shirt plays on the guitar on stage

Joe Don Rooney has been sober for over two years since attending rehab. (Scott Legato/Getty Images)

“God intervened and helped me to get my life back,” Rooney stated of his recovery. “With the help of my family and so many other professional clinical advisers and now numerous new sober forever friends, I’ve been able to get the train back on the tracks and live without the burden of alcohol. Now, I need 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.” 

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“I wish there was a way I could give back to God what all God has given to me – but moving forward, I will do my best to reflect God’s light of love and grace onto others like so many have done for me,” he told his followers. “Thank you for all the love, support and prayers. I promise you, I’ve felt them all and I’m super appreciative. Here’s to making the best of 2024 and living our most healthiest, happiest and goal oriented lives ever!!”

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