Aaron Tippin grew up in South Carolina getting his hands dirty on his dad's farm and in his airplane maintenance business. So now that a gold and (READ BETWEEN THE LINES) a platinum album have given him the wherewithal to build a 2,800-sq. ft. log house exactly as he wants, he's doing it himself. "The worst thing you can do to a hillbilly is tie his hands so he can't work on his own stuff," he says. Most days, Tippin, 36, drives 60 miles each way from Nashville to his 315-acre future haven. He hopes to move in by year's end and plans to build his mother a home on the property too.
After arising at 5:45, Tippin begins his daily one-hour workout. "It's back and chest day today."
With girlfriend Thea Corontzos, 30, as his spotter, Tippin bench-presses—Grrr!—250 pounds.
Coffee and vitamins, that's it. "I'm not much of morning eater," he says. "Makes me puke."
"Call me during the day," says Thea (bestowing a goodbye smooch). He will, on a cellular phone.
Snuff was "a nasty little habit I had to get rid of for this career." His chew now is mint leaves.
Cone Oil store, off Route 40. Coffee for his tank, gas for the truck's. To cashiers: "How y'all doin'?"
In his pickup, which he calls Moose, Tippin arrives at the site, on a high point on his land.
Cutting steel. On his last album, Tippin sang the praises of "workin' on a workingman's Ph.D."
"You gotta keep on 'em if you want it right," he says, away from subcontractor Tommy Moore.
Daughter Charla, 17, from his first marriage, is vacationing with him and riding shotgun today.
Welding in the future garage. Half will be devoted to vehicles, half to weight equipment.
On his loader (he also owns 11 vintage Mack trucks), Tippin pushes brush into a "burn pile."
He grabs his "varmint gun," takes a walk. Bam! "Think I got him. Looked like a copperhead."
The master surveys his domain. "We call this Push-Off Point. It'll be fun for rappelling."
In town, showers, changes, goes to mix new CD. "Takes me for damn ever to get it right."
Tippin stops at a party at the home of Thorn Schuyler, Nashville head of his label, RCA.
Dinner with Charla and Thea. First meal of the day. Then TV at the apartment, lights out at 10.
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