The demise of Rascal Flatts still seems quite cloudy to the country trio's loyal legion of fans, as the decision to move on seemingly occurred during the fog of the pandemic. To this day, it can still seem hard to believe that the legendary band that served up chart-toppers such as "Bless the Broken Road," "What Hurts the Most" and "My Wish" is no longer.
And frankly, Gary LeVox can't believe it either.
"I've never been OK with the way that it ended," LeVox, 51, tells PEOPLE in a revealing new interview. "I was never OK with…."
The Rascal Flatts frontman pauses, as if not entirely sure what to say next.
"I wasn't happy that Joe Don quit," he finishes the sentence.
The revelation hangs in the air, as it's far from the story Rascal Flatts fans heard last year, as LeVox, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus appeared on CBS This Morning to announce that they would recognize their 20th anniversary with a farewell tour — a tour that never ended up materializing due to the ongoing pandemic.
"It kind of came out of nowhere," LeVox continues, seemingly referring to Rooney's departure. "It was like, 'Let me try to wrap my head around this.' And then I certainly wasn't OK with the pandemic, which canceled everything. I hate the way that it ended. I hate that we didn't get to do this farewell tour. I can't stand the fact that it just feels there's no closure with something that we've been so blessed with. That will always be in my heart."
Neither Rooney nor DeMarcus had a comment on the situation, though the two appeared together at the ACM Honors in August.
Jason Kempin/Getty Joe Don Rooney, Jay DeMarcus and Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts
Indeed, 2020 left the men of Rascal Flatts in quite the quandary. Nevertheless, they moved on. DeMarcus, 50, continued heading up Red Street Records and released the song "Music Man" in honor of his late father. Rooney, 46, entered the studio with a number of up-and-coming artists. And LeVox, 51, pursued a solo career that closely resembled the faith that his whole life has been built on.
"I just took it and ran," he says of his solo career that was launched via the release of singles such as "The Distance" and "Working on Sunday." "I'm loving being a solo artist. I know that's what He's called me to do. I'm just going to stay on my path. I know what I'm supposed to do, and I love it. There's no better feeling than to make people feel something by something that you did."
And while LeVox is preparing for his first solo tour, he also finds himself worrying about the bandmate he shared the stage with so many times over the years.
"I have not talked to him," LeVox says when asked if he had spoken to Rooney following his DUI arrest in September. "And I was heartbroken too. But you know what? I think God gets your attention in different ways. I just wish him the best and I hope he gets everything that he needs to get well and take care of whatever issues he's got going on. There's power in prayer."
Courtesy Big Machine Records Gary LeVox
LeVox does just that, leaving the questions and the unknowing all in His hands.
"There's so many times in life that you sit there, and you go, 'Oh my gosh, I'm all alone, Lord, I just can't," says LeVox, who heads out on his first solo tour in 2022. "How many times could I pray for and ask you to pull me out of this and nothing is happening? And it's then that He makes himself known, and everything makes sense."