Legends: Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker is a versatile and successful singer, songwriter and guitarist who has explored various genres of music throughout his career. He became well known as the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the rock band Hootie & the Blowfish, which he co-founded in 1986 at the University of South Carolina with his friends Mark Bryan, Jim Sonefeld and Dean Felber. More recently he is a solo country music artist who has released seven albums and scored nine number one singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Early Life

Rucker was born on May 13, 1966, in Charleston, South Carolina, where he grew up in a musical family with his mother, two aunts, grandmother and five siblings. He sang in church and school choirs and developed a passion for R&B, blues and country music.

He says of childhood: I’m a kid who grew up in an all African-American neighborhood and got into schools and aspired to just be me, and didn’t worry about labels or anything. Just wanted to be a success at what I did.”

He met his future bandmates of Hootie & the Blowfish at the University of South Carolina, where he studied mass communications. The band started playing local gigs and released their self-financed debut EP, Kootchypop, in 1991, which sold more than 50,000 copies.

Hootie & the Blowfish

The band’s breakthrough came in 1994 with their major label debut album, Cracked Rear View, which became one of the best-selling albums of all time, selling over 16 million copies worldwide. The album featured four hit singles: “Hold My Hand”, “Let Her Cry”, “Only Wanna Be with You” and “Time”. The band won two Grammy Awards in 1996 for Best New Artist and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The band followed up with four more albums: Fairweather Johnson (1996), Musical Chairs (1998), Hootie & the Blowfish (2003) and Looking for Lucky (2005), which sold over 10 million copies combined.

Solo Career

In 2001, Rucker released his first solo album, Back to Then, which showcased his R&B influences. The album did not chart any singles, but received positive reviews from critics.

“People go, ‘Oh, you’re another guy who crossed over to country.’ I say, name another one. Name one other pop singer who’s done what I’ve done as a country singer. There isn’t one.”

Darius Rucker on his crossover to country

In 2008, Rucker signed with Capitol Nashville and reinvented himself as a country music artist. His first country album, Learn to Live, was released in September 2008 and spawned three consecutive number one singles: “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It”, “It Won’t Be Like This for Long” and “Alright”. He became the first Black artist to top the country charts since Charley Pride in 1983 and the first Black artist to win the Country Music Association Award for New Artist of the Year in 2009.

darius rucker

Rucker continued his country success with his next albums: Charleston, SC 1966 (2010), True Believers (2013), Southern Style (2015) and When Was the Last Time (2017). Some of his most popular country songs include “Come Back Song”, “This”, “Wagon Wheel”, “Homegrown Honey” and “If I Told You”. He also released a Christmas album, Home for the Holidays, in 2014. In 2019, he reunited with Hootie & the Blowfish for a new album, Imperfect Circle, and a tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cracked Rear View (their most successful album).

Musical Success

Darius Rucker’s most successful single and country music album are both milestones in his solo career. His single “Wagon Wheel“, which was released in 2013, is a cover of a song co-written by Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show. It became Rucker’s first solo single to be certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA and won him a Grammy Award for Best Country Solo Performance. It sold over four million copies in the US alone.

His country music album “Learn to Live“, which was released in 2008, marked his debut in the genre and spawned three consecutive number one singles: “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It”, “It Won’t Be Like This for Long” and “Alright”. It also earned him the CMA New Artist of the Year award and established him as a force to be reckoned with in country music.

Acting and Charity Work

darius rucker cma
Darius Rucker performs at the VIP Stage at Nissan Stadium on Thursday, June 8 during CMA Fest 2023 in downtown Nashville.

Rucker has also ventured into acting, appearing in films such as Shallow Hal (2001), The Fighting Temptations (2003) and Ted (2012), as well as TV shows such as CMT Crossroads, Hawaii Five-0 and American Idol. He is also involved in various charitable causes, such as Musicians on Call, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and MUSC Children’s Hospital.

darius rucker

Find something that makes you want to give and give and give ’til it hurts.

Darius Rucker on his charity work

He has raised more than $2 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through his annual “Darius and Friends” benefit concert, which he started in 2009 after visiting the hospital and being moved by its mission. He has donated more than $3 million to public education and junior golf programs in South Carolina through the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation, which he co-founded with his bandmates in 2000

He serves as a National Chair for the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, Tennessee, which celebrates the contributions of Black artists to American music

Legend in the Making

Darius Rucker is not only a talented and versatile artist, but also a trailblazer and an inspiration for many aspiring black musicians who want to pursue country music. He has faced racism and prejudice throughout his career, but he has never let that stop him from following his passion and expressing his authentic voice. He has also used his platform and success to support various causes and communities, especially in his home state of South Carolina. As he sings in his song “Alright”,

“Don’t need no five star reservations / I’ve got spaghetti and a cheap bottle of wine / Don’t need no concert in the city / I’ve got a stereo and the ‘Best of Patsy Cline’ / Ain’t got no caviar, no Dom Perignon / But as far as I can see I’ve got everything I want”. 

He is a living example of how to overcome challenges, embrace diversity, and celebrate life with gratitude and joy.

Darius Rucker Playlist

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