Chief, Mr. Misunderstood, an outsider, a desperate man ... Eric Church has earned himself a pile of nicknames throughout his decade-plus country music career.

Born on May 3, 1977, Church grew up in Granite Falls, N.C. and began playing guitar and writing songs as a teenager. After his college graduation (he's got a business degree from Appalachian State University), Church moved to Nashville, hoping to become a songwriter rather than an artist. However, while songwriting, Church cut his own demos, which led to a deal with Capitol Records Nashville ... and, well, you know the rest.

As a high schooler, Church was cutting his teeth in small bars and clubs, and Terri Clark ("The World Needs a Drink") and Dean Miller ("Whiskey Wings") recorded his songs in the mid-2000s. These days, however, thanks to some hit singles and a reputation for putting on a killer live show, he's a total superstar. Flip through the photo gallery below for snapshots from throughout Church's time in the spotlight.

See Pictures of Eric Church Through the Years:

More From Rockford's New Country Q98.5