Josh Abbott of the Josh Abbott Band performs at the Academy of Country Music's Party for a Cause music festival at Globe Life Park on Friday, April 17, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Josh Abbott band performs two shows at Billy Bob's Texas in early January 2017.

Josh Abbott of the Josh Abbott Band performs at the Academy of Country Music's Party for a Cause music festival at Globe Life Park on Friday, April 17, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Josh Abbott band performs two shows at Billy Bob's Texas in early January 2017.

Gregory Castillo/Staff Photographer

Depending on which Texas country fan you ask, drama either seems to follow the Josh Abbott Band or the group's namesake seems to find it all by himself. 

Though many folks were glad to see 2016 finally roll into 2017, it's a safe bet Abbott was happier about it than most.

It's not that 2016 was all bad for the 36-year-old band leader. His group's latest album, the ambitious concept record Front Row Seat, inspired by Abbott's marriage and divorce, was met with positive  reviews. It also sold well, debuting in the Top 10 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart near the end of 2015.

But in 2016, Abbott experienced the wildest week he has, or may ever, endure.

While in Las Vegas in late July, Abbott suffered a severe allergic reaction to an IV treatment administered to him in his hotel room the day after a night of partying with a friend. The trendy service was meant to help him recover, but as anaphylaxis set in and his throat began to constrict, Abbott, an asthmatic, feared for his life.

The day following his scare, two of his band mates discovered a grotesquely decomposing body inside of a hot abandoned car in Vegas. And as bassist James Hertless discussed the horrific details with a police officer, he received a phone call that his grandfather had died back home.

A week of shows were canceled and the band headed back to Texas "to go home, get some rest and hug our families," Abbott says. In predictably cynical fashion, many on social media questioned the validity of Abbott's wild week in Sin City.

"It was wild to see people criticizing me for canceling those shows," Abbott says. 

"Those who think I was just a bit drunk have no [expletive] clue, really. I had a traumatic weekend where I almost died. And now, I carry an EpiPen with me everywhere I go."

Over the years, Abbott has spoken freely on social media, sharing wild and unvarnished takes regarding politics, groupies and his own marriage infidelity

"I don't regret taking things fast or speaking my mind the way that I did," Abbott says, "but I know it was different for people to see a young band move up as quick as we did. Maybe some of my Twitter rants didn't help me out, but I can only learn from those and move forward."

Josh Abbott Band

Bolstered by the band's spring performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, its first-ever appearance on late night television, the band kept on track for a busy 2016. In September, the group celebrated its first Top 40 radio single with the impeccably catchy "Wasn't That Drunk." 

Another dramatic moment came with the imaginatively conceptualized video for "Amnesia," which sent Abbott reaching into the darkest corners of his memory to fuel the very real tears he shed during filming.

He admits he hopes to give people reasons to appreciate his work, though he can't seem to avoid criticism, either.

"I ask myself, 'What am I working on now that people will look back years from now and think, 'That's really cool he did that'?'"

Josh Abbott Band plays Friday, Jan. 6 and Saturday, Jan. 7 at Billy Bob's Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth. Find concert details here.

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