It might be hard for fans to believe now, but Luke Bryan wasn't always the arena-packing, hip-shaking country superstar he is today. Many know that the singer's journey toward pursuing his dream in Nashville was put on hold after the death of his brother. However, back before Bryan left his hometown of Leesburg, Ga., the then-18-year-old singer was in a popular local band called Neyami Road.

While the name may sound a little bizarre, it actually made sense at the time: As Bryan explained during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, it was actually a tip of the hat to Leesburg, which was geographically equidistant by railroad from New York City to Miami. The Boot's partner site, Taste of Country, has compiled all the details of Bryan's first band and how it got its unusual name.

As luck would have it, one of the many early fans Bryan garnered as a member of Neyami Road was Cole Swindell, now a country star in his own right who will be joining Bryan on the road this year for his 2019 Sunset Repeat Tour. Swindell was just a college student hanging out at a frat house when he encountered Bryan onstage with the group, and even back then, he knew the singer had major star potential.

"I just remember thinking, 'Wow, this guy's gonna be a huge star,'" Swindell recalls to Taste of Country. "I remember seeing him play live and thinking, 'This guy's an unbelievable entertainer.' It took a while to catch on for him...But where he is now, I [knew] he was a star from the first time I saw him."

Watch the video above for more details on Bryan's tumultuous road to success -- and to learn the story behind his infamous booty shake. Bryan and Swindell will kick off the Sunset Repeat tour with Jon Langston in May of 2019.

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