Born in Granite Falls, North Carolina, Eric began writing songs of his own at the age of 13, later teaching himself to play the guitar. He started playing gigs at a local bar in his native North Carolina during his senior year in high school.
While attending college at Appalachian State, Eric formed a band, the Mountain Boys, that played around western North Carolina. They consisted of his college roommate, brother, and a fellow guitarist.
In 2001, he moved to Nashville, with his sights set on being a songwriter, and earned a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Tree. "I came here to be a songwriter," Eric told Billboard magazine, "I never really came to town to be an artist. I didn't know how to do it. But there were so many people in town that kept saying, 'We love this or that song, but it sounds like it's his.' When that started coming back time and time again we started thinking, 'Maybe we're going about this wrong.' That's when we started at least entertaining that I should be an artist."
His first Nashville job was for a Home Shopping channel, taking credit card numbers from callers on the night shift. Eric got fired after he was caught trying to talk the insomniac shopaholics out of what they'd phoned in to purchase.
When his career was getting started, Eric was forced to deal with the heat from the stage lights drying out his contact lenses. He took to wearing aviators and as he began performing in larger venues, his sunglasses and Von Dutch denim trucker hat became his signature trademark.
Eric got fired from the Rascal Flatts tour in 2006 when he played an overlong set as the opening act at New York's Madison Square Garden. He was replaced by a teenage newcomer named Taylor Swift
He has been married to music publisher Katherine Blasingame since January 8, 2008. Their first child, Boone McCoy Church, was born October 3, 2011.
The title of Eric's 2011 album, Chief
, refers to a nickname of not only the singer's grandfather, but also his own pet name among friends and family. "My grandpa was chief of police for 35 years in Granite Falls, New Carolina., but the cool part of the story is my nickname on the road is Chief," Eric explained to The Boot
. "That's what the band band calls me. That's what everybody calls me, and my grandpa's nickname was Chief so it was kind of a full circle …"
Eric Church and Katherine Blasingame's second son, Tennessee Hawkins "Hawk" Church was born on February 15, 2015. The couple call him Hawk for short and the singer got the idea for his name literally from seeing one of the birds of prey. "Hawk was just something that kind of came to me," he explained to Country Countdown USA. "We have a bunch of property out west of town, and I was out there one day, and honestly saw a hawk, as weird as that is, and I called my wife, and said, 'Have you thought about Hawk? Because I'm imagining myself at 6 years old, and if that was your name, or your friend was Hawk, that's cool. It's a cool name. It's like a Top Gun fighter pilot."
Tennessee, Church added, is a name close to both his and his wife's heart but for differing reasons. "Well she's from Tennessee, so she loved it, and she's a Tennessee Volunteer fan too," he explained. "My meaning was different. I love Tennessee Williams, but also one of my favorite songs was by Don Williams, 'Good Old Boys Like Me,' it's got that line in it, 'Hank and Tennessee.' It's one of my favorite songs, so there's a dual meaning for me."
He's not a morning person, describing himself as a "crack-of-noon guy."
In the summer of 2017, a blood clot in his chest nearly killed him. The clot was caused by a genetic abnormality that left his first rib too close to his collarbone. It wasn't discovered until his arm started swelling and he went to the hospital. He was sent to Duke University Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery and had that rib removed.