Trace Adkins Feels 'Fortunate to Still Be Here' After Surviving a Gun Wound and Near-Fatal Accidents

It's been a lifetime of twists and turns — multiple near-fatal accidents, a gunshot wound, divorces and a struggle with alcoholism, included — for Trace

Adkins, but he hasn't lost an ounce of his Southern grit. "Early in my career, I took my dad out on the road for a week or two, and somebody came up to me and said, 'Your

old man reminds me of John Wayne,'" the star recalls in this week's special PEOPLE Country cover story. "I said, 'S---, my old man makes John Wayne look like a [wimp].' I think

I'm very much like my daddy was." That tough-as-nails attitude served Adkins, 60, well as he stepped into the boots of Albie Roman, patriarch of a famous country music

family, on Fox's new series Monarch (airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST). "Playing him hasn't been a stretch," Adkins says. "I'm no stranger to drama. When I heard I'd get to

play the patriarch of this incredibly dysfunctional — although successful — family, I was like, 'I'm in.'" Says Anna Friel, who plays his daughter: "Trace was a true

gentleman and a lovely scene partner. He is a wonderful human." RELATED: Trace Adkins Sees Himself in His Role on New TV Drama, 'Monarch': 'The Train Is Perpetually Off the

Track' Born Tracy Darrell Adkins to mom Peggy, a high school teacher, and dad Aaron, a corrugated-box plant worker, in Louisiana, he started playing guitar at age 10. In

high school, he sang with a gospel group before attending Louisiana Tech University in Ruston to pursue his other passion: football.