Inside Luke Bryan's Friendship With Cole Swindell

If a Hollywood producer ever wanted to bring a bromance between two country music stars to the big screen, then they might want to look to "Drink a Beer" singer Luke Bryan and "Ain't Worth the Whiskey" hitmaker Cole Swindell's friendship for inspiration. The guys share a long history, and while it doesn't look like they've grown tired of each other yet, we have to wonder if they're getting just a teensy bit competitive — after all, Swindell is racking up the number one hits at a pace that should have his pal shaking in his cowboy boots.

As reported by Country Now, Bryan helped Swindell celebrate his 10th number one single during CMA Summer Jam in July. The former tour buddies reunited onstage in Nashville to perform Swindell's hit "Single Saturday Night" and skillfully turned it into a duet. The duo plans to team up for another performance when the "CMA Summer Jam" television special airs on September 2 on ABC.

When Bryan embarked on his "Sunset Repeat Tour" in 2019, he told Froggy 92.9 that he was "super excited" to have Swindell as his opening act because he realized that his pal was becoming big enough to headline his own show, meaning they probably wouldn't hit the road together again. However, they continued hanging out together — in June, Swindell was present when Bryan unpacked his ACM Entertainer of the Year award. Read on to learn how the musicians became such good buds.

How Cole Swindell ended up selling Luke Bryan merch

These days, fans can purchase T-shirts with Cole Swindell's likeness splashed on them from tour vendors. However, there was a time when he was the one selling merchandise for a musician. But to get to how he got that gig, we have to take our serendipitous story back to Swindell's college days. Before he and Luke Bryan were crafting bro-country anthems about booze and knockin' boots, they were both frat bros at Georgia Southern University. However, they didn't attend the school at the same time.

During a 2017 interview with Taste of Country, Swindell recalled the night Bryan visited his old alma mater with his former band Neyami Road. They played a song at the Sigma Chi frat house, and Swindell was impressed. "I was like, 'This guy's an unbelievable entertainer,'" he recalled. Watching Bryan helped set his own future as a singer and songwriter in motion. "I remember the way it made me feel, and I was like 'I have to be able to do that,'" he said. He and Bryan kept in touch, and he headed to Nashville in 2007. There, Swindell helped the up-and-coming "Most People Are Good" hitmaker sell his tour merch for three years while soaking up everything he could about the music biz. "I was just trying to pay the bills. But I learned so much I was ready when I finally got my record deal," Swindell told the Sioux City Journal in 2015.

Why Cole Swindell was skeptical of Luke Bryan's one word of advice

During those years selling merchandise, Cole Swindell began sharpening his songwriting skills. He penned many of Luke Bryan's Spring Break songs, including "Shore Thing," "Shake the Sand" and "Love in a College Town." He told the Sioux City Journal that Bryan gave him "a hard time" when he was the merch guy, but he also served as a mentor for the aspiring singer. Bryan passed some sage advice onto his protégé when he was still a college student, but it took a minute for his bite-sized wisdom to sink in.

"I remember sending him an email and asking him for advice about writing songs," Swindell told CMT's Cody Alan in August. "All he sent back was one word, he said, 'LIVE.'" Swindell initially thought that Bryan was "being short" with him, but when he really began to think about it, the single word was excellent advice — after all, it's much easier to write about things you've actually experienced. Bryan's own life experience proved that he knew what he was talking about, as he began his career penning songs for the likes of Travis Tritt. Swindell would go on to write Bryan's hit "Roller Coaster" and his own first number-one single, "Chillin' It." And neither would exist without that chance encounter at a frat house. As Swindell told The Florida Times-Union, "Without meeting him, I don't know that I'd have the motivation to write a song."