It’s been three decades since two aspiring young musicians met in college. Now, after all of the travel, concerts, songs, fans, tours, autographs and more … did they ever think it would last this long? Yeah, they sort of did. It hasn’t always been calm or comfortable, but according to Jack O’Neill and Cary Pierce, the Jacko and the Pierce who have sold 500,000 albums, it’s been one heck of a ride. “We met in 1987 as theater majors at SMU,” recalls Pierce, “[bonding] immediately during freshman year.” The melding of these two talents into a single Jackopierce proved fortuitous on many levels. “It kind of started as people saying, ‘Let’s go see Jack and Pierce play,’” says Pierce. As their reputation (and music) spread, a devoted fan base developed.
Over the years Jackopierce has released ten studio albums and toured three continents, nine countries, and 45 states, making millions of fans along the way. They’ve shared stages with top talent, including John Mayer, Dave Matthews and Sheryl Crow to name a few. Then in 1998, O’Neill and Pierce unexpectedly went their separate ways. Their second album for A&M Records didn’t knock the lights out the way they’d hoped, and at the time the future looked dull.
“We had a label and publishing deals and spent a lot of time on the road working,” says O’Neill. “I think we were just unsure of what the next step was.” “Jack fell in love with a New York girl, moved to the city… and we didn’t speak for five years,” says Pierce.
In 2002, Jackopierce reunited, resuming recording and performing. “We just took a side step. It’s amazing to realize that we’ve been ‘back together’ longer than we were together in the beginning,” O’Neill muses.
How’s the relationship today?
“Better than ever,” says O’Neill. “I think we understand and trust each other much more.” Pierce sees the pair “like brothers.” “More and more people comment on the genuine, sweet bond we have on stage. It’s real, but we definitely dial it up on stage and have a blast,” he says.
In 2013, Jackopierce celebrated a quarter century together by performing live and then turning the concert into Live 25, a tremendous album recorded before an enthusiastic hometown crowd. The following year, they played another show with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. “It still amazes me that we played our original music with the symphony,” says O’Neill.
Does Texas play a special role in Jackopierce’s life and music?
“Maybe I’m biased, but [it] has an aura that you don’t find elsewhere,” says O’Neill. How much longer can Jackopierce’s musical-adventure continue? “We’ve set an exciting goal: sell out Madison Square Garden in 2024,” says Pierce. “That’s five years from now, and we’re going to document the ‘Road to the Garden’ on film, phones, etc. That should be interesting.”
O’Neill agrees. “We’re going to keep writing songs, playing shows and stay open to whatever happens next.”
Feature Photo Courtesy of Andrew Kelly