Entertainment

Lifelong friends keep country star McCreery grounded

Posted October 2, 2014 6:49 p.m. EDT
Updated October 2, 2014 9:00 p.m. EDT

— Scotty McCreery's deep voice, at just 16-years old, won over the judges and fans on "American Idol," and the Garner high school student turned country celebrity.

As he turns 21, McCreery is balancing a full country music career with college. His friends say he's the same guy on and off stage, and they will make sure he stays that way.

"We have to," said Colin Perry. "It's our obligation and our job to give him a hard time because nobody else does."

At a rolicking conversation at Raleigh's Amedeo's restaurant, McCreery and friends traded memories and good-natured ribbing.

From elementary school through to college, whether attending church, on baseball teams and chorus, the guys  around the table have known Scotty almost his entire life.

"He's basically the same," said Andrew Robinson.

"Sometimes he puts more country twang in his voice now than he used to," he said .

"Oh really," McCreery responded. 

"I like to mock his voice sometimes, but I think we all do that," said Deuce Johnson.

"There's never a dull moment," said Evan McNeill. "We're always just having fun doing something.

McCreery says he does act a bit different around his friends.

"If I hear the very start, 'cause I know my song's coming on just by the first note on the radio, so if I hear it and I'm with these guys, I'll turn it quickly because I know I'll be catching something from these guys here," he said.

"They're good at humbling me for sure. My head never gets big around these guys."

McCreery knows he's a lucky guy. 

"The tour is going well," he said last week. "We're selling out shows all over the place."

And when he comes home, his friends get to rub off a little bit of that fame.

Scotty shares with his friends the fun adventures celebrity has brought him, like hanging out with the "Duck Dynasty" family or playing golf at really nice courses.

"There's definitely some perks we didn't deserve to be able to do," said Will Norris.

And they were there when a fan found her way into McCreery's apartment..

"And next thing you know, we hear the door come like open and 'Hey Scotty,'" Robinson said, his voice climbing to a falsetto.

They were also all together when the intrusion was not so funny. McCreery and friends were held at gunpoint and robbed in May.

"That was as scared as I've been in my life," he said.

"We were just kind of hanging out, just kind of having a bro night, and then it took a turn for the worse."

Austin Nagy was the one to answer the knock at the door.

"I just barely opened the door and as soon as I did, they kind of pushed their way in," he said.

Three men took wallets, a computer and phones.

"Pretty much every night now if somebody comes to our door and knocks and we don't know they're coming, we're pretty scared," McCreery said.

The experience brought the friends even closer.

And if one day McCreery moves to follow his career to the country music hub of Nashville, don't expect these guys to be too far away.

"We've been together this long, so might as well not throw it out the window now," he said.

McCreery and his friends plan to celebrate his 21st birthday with a round of golf at Pinehurst No. 2, another of those perks of fame and fortune. 

As for the robbery, Raleigh police arrested one suspect and are still searching for two others.