When musicians dream of hitting the big time, they usually picture a grand tour of the world's arenas and stadiums, where they can rock fans by the millions. While anyone can dream, when you run into once prominent musicians at the county fair, it's safe to say that they're not on their way to stadium status.
Really though, what's wrong with playing smaller, more local shows? There are lots of hit musicians who played county fairs, and they don't seem to be ashamed. Sure, there are plenty of insane things to uncover at the county fair, but a gig's a gig. It doesn't matter if it's a 50,000-seat stadium, or something a bit more, well, intimate.
Backstage life at the county fair is a little different from playing stadiums. When you lead the rock and roll lifestyle, some crazy things can happen, but for the bands who wound up at the fair, the craziest thing that'll happen is a wholehearted binge of turkey legs and deep friend Oreos. The drinks might not be comped, but when you've released a triple-platinum record, you can splurge on a giant, $12 cup of lemonade.
Queen Latifah's rap career started in the late '80s, and she soon became one of the most respected figures in hip-hop. Hits like "Ladies First" and "U.N.I.T.Y." proved she was an MC who could deliver a powerful message.
Queen Latifah eventually morphed her musical success into an acting career, starring in the TV show Living Single, and garnering an Oscar nomination for her performance in Chicago. In 2017, she starred in the hit film Girls Trip, but still found time to perform at the LA County Fair that September.
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- Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Contemporary R&B, Jazz, Soul music, Gospel music
- Albums: All Hail the Queen, Black Reign, Trav'lin' Light, The Dana Owens Album, Order in the Court
Is Iggy Azalea too current to be playing county fairs? Possibly, as her huge hits "Fancy" and "Black Widow" came out in 2014. Even so, she performed at the 2016 LA County Fair, as well as the 2017 Alaska State Fair.
Iggy doesn't appear to be a fair circuit regular just yet, but she's not above performing for a crowd who just ate a bunch of corn dogs.
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- Genres (Music): Hip hop
- Albums: Work, Glory, Change Your Life EP, iTunes Festival: London 2013, Bounce
In the '90s, Boyz II Men were pretty much THE male vocal group. "One Sweet Day," their collaboration with Mariah Carey, ruled the top of the charts for 16 straight weeks. On top of that, they released the hit tracks "I'll Make Love To You," and "On Bended Knee," to name a few.
Despite their success, Boyz II Men still plays the occasional fair, including the 2017 LA County Fair. While this news might leave some fans distraught, Boyz II Men is still doing quite well; just because they're playing fairs doesn't mean they've come to the end of the road.
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- Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B, New jack swing, Rhythm and blues
- Albums: Christmas Interpretations, II, Evolution, The Remix Collection, Full Circle
While most county fair performers are bygone acts with mainstream credentials, in recent years, psychedelic indie rock group The Flaming Lips has inexplicably been making waves at fairs across the nation. The band played the Orange County Fair in 2013, The Puyallup Fair in Washington in 2011, plus several others.
Some might say The Flaming Lips are are too good for county fairs, but others argue that booking an actually talented band only makes the fair seem more enticing.
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- Genres (Music): Rock music, Space rock, Psychedelic pop, Experimental rock, Neo-psychedelia
- Albums: The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, At War With the Mystics, Clouds Taste Metallic, Transmissions From the Satellite Heart