From Fort Sill to fame: How Zach Holliday’s Army experience shaped his music career

By Monica WoodDecember 11, 2023

Steel guitar
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Zach Holliday plays his steel guitar in the window of Studio 4121 in Apache, Okla. Holliday helps his friends, Jared and AJ Rosen, run the studio when he’s not on the road touring. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL
Play it pretty
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Zach Holliday plays the pedal steel guitar, a classic instrument for country and bluegrass musicians. Holliday currently plays with the Josh Meloy Band and they recently played the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL
It's getting Mo Betta every day
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Zach Holliday poses in the studio he and his friends recently moved into in Apache. He says they found memorabilia that the building used to be the Mo Betta Shirt Company and they found some of the Mo Betta shirts during remodeling the space. The iconic shirts now have a place of honor on the wall. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT SILL, OK (Dec. 11, 2023)– Music has always been an integral part of Zach Holliday's life, but his time with Fort Sill’s 77th Army Band truly set the stage for his burgeoning music career.

Today, Holliday is making waves in the world of country music, a journey that began amidst the disciplined environment of the U.S. Army.

Growing up in a family of musicians, Holliday's musical passion was evident from a young age. However, it was his enlistment in the Army in 2011 as a 42R (Army Musician) that honed his skills and introduced him to the steel guitar, an instrument that has become central to his career after the Army.

"I played mostly acoustic guitar before joining the Army," Holliday recalls. "It was one of my battle buddies in the 77th Army Band who introduced me to the steel guitar. I realized then that somebody had to learn it, and that somebody was me."

Holliday's tenure with the 77th Army Band, spanning from 2011 to 2014 and then from 2017 to 2020, was more than just a military commitment; it was a period of artistic growth and personal development. Despite being medically discharged, Holliday found his time in the Army instrumental in preparing him for life as a touring musician.

"The Army taught me to be ready for any situation, to never quit, and to relentlessly pursue my dreams," Holliday shared. "These lessons have been invaluable on the road and in the music industry."

Holliday's military service also offered him unique opportunities. He fondly remembers playing in the country band at Fort Sill, opening for renowned artists like Brad Paisley, Merle Haggard, and Miranda Lambert. Those experiences not only enriched his skills but also fueled his passion for music.

Since leaving the Army in 2020, Holliday has performed more than 500 times, traveling across the United States and beyond. His talent has taken him to iconic venues like the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the Calgary Stampede in Canada, and the Stagecoach Festival in California.

Currently playing full-time with artist Josh Meloy, Holliday is excited about their upcoming full-length record and the extensive touring that will follow. Their recent performance at the Ryman, opening for Neal McCoy, was particularly memorable for Holliday, linking his past with the 77th Army Band to his present success.

"The Ryman show was a full-circle moment for me," Holliday reflects. "Telling Neal McCoy that one of the last things I did in the Army was work on one of his songs was incredibly special."

With over 6 million listeners on Spotify, Josh Meloy and his band, including Holliday, are rapidly gaining popularity. For Holliday, this is just the beginning. His journey from Fort Sill to the stages of America's most revered music venues is a testament to the power of dedication, talent, and the life-changing impact of his time in the Army.

"I would recommend the Army to any young person looking for direction," Holliday advises. "It gave me a sense of purpose and the drive to achieve my dreams."

Holliday said his story is not just one of musical success; it's a narrative about how the discipline, training, and experiences in the U.S. Army can lay the foundation for extraordinary achievements in life after service.