“Rich Men North of Richmond” singer Oliver Anthony was at Eagle Lake Thursday night to buy back his old F-350 work truck.

Anthony sold the 1991 F-350 XL a few years ago while in his native state of Virginia. The truck was then resold to Billy Moore of Eagle Lake.

Moore and his wife, Elizabeth, are best known locally as the couple who, until recently, operated the Yore Store at Eagle Lake. Moore explained that the man who bought the truck from Anthony in Virginia took it to Ohio. He put the truck, which had “Ollywoo Farm” on the door, up for sale. Moore, who often worked in Ohio at the time, said, “I drove by, stopped, and called Liz and told her I’m buying that truck.”

Anthony posts a picture of his old truck on the internet

Billy and Liz Moore
Billy and Liz Moore and the “Ollywoo Farm” truck. Photo by David Day

That truck has been a regular sight at Eagle Lake for the past few years, and no one, including Moore, knew its origins were tied to Anthony. Anthony posted on social media about four weeks ago, “It’s a long shot. But I was just wondering if my old farm truck is still alive? I used to have a flatbed ’91 F350 4×4 with “Ollywoo Farm” on the door. Sold it about 5 years ago, and last I heard it’s on a cattle farm in Mississippi.”

Thinking it may take some time, Anthony was shocked to get a response the very next day. He took it to his Instagram page and said, “Thanks to the thousands of people here who helped me! I got in touch with the current owners, and they couldn’t be cooler/friendlier people. I will be visiting their farm a day or two before our Tupelo, Ms show on April 12th. ”

For his part, Billy Moore said, “I told him I’d sell it to him for what I’ve got in it.”

Oliver Anthony, working-class hero, national phenom

Oliver Anthony has become a hero of working folks all across America. His song, “Rich Men North of Richmond,” was an immediate internet hit that resonated with working people everywhere. In a post on Facebook, Anthony said, “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.”

The song rang up over nine million YouTube views in five days, causing one YouTube commenter to say, “And just like that, you became the voice of 40 or 50 million working men.” The tune’s pointed truths swipe at the ruling class and powerfully lament the woes of the working man in a manner reminiscent of Woody Guthrie. The opening verse, “I’ve been selling my soul; working all day, overtime hours for bullshit pay,” has become an anthem embedded in the soul of the American working class.

The Number One song in America

oliver anthony
Oliver Anthony at Eagle Lake. Photo by David Day

Released on August 8, 2023, the song took over every digital media. By August 17, Anthony was getting offers from record companies. In response he posted to the internet telling his fans he turned down an $8 million dollar offer from a record company, saying, “Everyone in the ‘industry’ is rushing me into signing something, but we just want to take things slow right now.” Turning down $8 million added to his everyman credibility and fame. On August 26 “Rich Men North of Richmond” debuted at Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 making Anthony the first artist to debut atop the chart without any prior chart history in any form.

The song became a part of the American political stage when it was brought up during the Republican Debate. One of the candidates, Ron DeSantis, embraced the tune and immediately became a fan, using the song as a foil to take a swipe at Hunter Biden. Anthony responded to that in a lengthy and pointed YouTube video, saying, “It was funny seeing my song–seeing it at the presidential debate, because it’s like, I wrote that song about those people. So for them to have to sit and listen to that, that cracks me up.” Lunsford said, “That song was written about the people on that stage. And a lot more, too, not just them. But definitely them.”

As if he needed any more credibility with working folks, Anthony found out a venue he was scheduled to play in Knoxville was charging $90 for tickets, and $200 for VIP tickets to an upcoming show. He was driving when he heard that news and angrily pulled over to the side of the road. Enraged and with cars whipping by in the background, Anthony recorded a message to his fans not to buy tickets to the show. The show was canceled a couple of days later and Anthony’s legend grew.

Chris Lunsford

That same Oliver Anthony (his real name is Chris Lunsford) was at Eagle Lake Thursday with his young family and two piece band. They all arrived in the tour bus accompanied by the tour manager, who didn’t quite fit the country boy visual vibe.

After the initial greeting and getting to see his old truck, he was no longer nationwide sensation Oliver Anthony, he was workingman Chris Lunsford. Lunsford mentioned to someone at Eagle Lake that he had never seen a real alligator. They loaded him and his band up in a 4-wheeler and went looking. An hour or so later they came back and Lunsford whipped out his phone to show the video of a monster gator they were able to spy near Maxwell’s end of the lake. In the video, one of his bandmates chased towards the gator scaring it back into the water. That brought a big smile to Lunsford’s face each of the at least four times he showed that video to anyone who asked if he got to see a gator.

The 6 foot 6 inch Lunsford with the bright red hair and beard talked with everyone there. He engaged each person who came up to him as if they were a family member or coworker. Everyone had value to him and he listened well, answered honestly, smiled brightly and laughed freely. He posed for  photographs, he signed autographs and was genuine and respectful. He is a working man who is fully aware that he is, as he said, “blessed.”

Oliver Anthony
Oliver Anthony and a young fan at Eagle Lake. Photo by David Day

As the crowd grew and the sun dropped, Anthony and his crew grabbed their instruments from the bus and started tuning them up. No road crew set up the stage. There was no guy who’s only job is to tune instruments. It was the three of them, Chris, the tall long haired upright bass player who ate 3 bowls of gumbo and the guitar player who chased gators in his off time. The crowd started to close in on the garage area and what was a couple dozen people an hour earlier had grown to close to 100 people.

“Ollywoo Farm”

The Eagle Lake crowd was in a festive mood and “Ollywoo Farm” truck owner Billy Moore aggressively quieted the crowd, eliciting a big smile and nod from Oliver Anthony. The three musicians began to pick out the first song with Anthony playing his dobro. He then began singing with his distinctive country clear, honest and strong voice. Technically speaking Anthony plays a Gretsch G9220 Bobtail Resonator, but most people call it a dobro. They played three more songs and then ended with “Rich Men from Richmond,” the crowd singing every word and every emotion.

You can watch the full 24 minute barn concert by clicking here.

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Footnote – Anthony bought the truck from Hollywood Farm in Virginia and modified it almost immediately. He lit up a big, bright smile explaining that he thought the truck would look better if he removed the “H” and the “D” from Hollywood.

Oliver Anthony
Billy Moore, Oliver Anthony and the Ford F-350. Photo by David Day