Let's get one thing straight: his name is Darius, not "Hootie." Born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Rucker would find fame as the frontman for Hootie & the Blowfish before become a solo country artist.
He made his solo debut as an R&B artist in 2001 with the album The Return of Mongo Slade, but he would find his calling in country music in 2008 when he signed to Capitol Records in Nashville.
His first country single, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It
," was a milestone for Rucker. Not only was it a #1 country hit, but it also made Rucker the first African American to have a country chart-topper as a solo artist since Charlie Pride with "Night Games" in 1983.
Frank Sinatra invited the singer to perform at his 80th birthday bash, where Rucker sang the Sinatra classic "The Lady is a Tramp
Not everyone is a fan. With the 1994 Hootie & The Blowfish song "Drowning," he protested against his home state, South Carolina, for flying the Confederate flag above the statehouse. Some listeners were so incensed, they hurled death threats at the singer. Nearly a decade later, he would be the subject of rage again when he dared to become a black country singer. The backlash included racist e-mails and more threats against his life.
In an era of burgeoning gangsta rap, Rucker got a lot of flak for being a black man fronting a band of white guys and playing music that "wasn't black enough." During Hootie & the Blowfish's heyday in the '90s, Rucker was spoofed on SNL by Tim Meadows, who made him a champion of white privilege in the "Hootie's Million Man March" sketch.
Darius Rucker is a huge Miami Dolphins fan. He sung on the 1995 Hootie and the Blowfish song "Only Wanna Be With You
" of his team making him cry.
Rucker is a good friend of Tiger Woods, whom he first met in a bar when the golfer was 18. He sang at Woods' wedding with Hootie & the Blowfish, and at his father's funeral.
Rucker recalled one of his worst jobs before turning to music: "I was 15, and I worked at a pizza place, and the guy decided that at 15, that I could not only clean the floors and wash the dishes, but I also had to make pizza. So, for two months, he taught me how to make pizza."
He takes a lot of pride in his successful crossover to country music. "Name one other pop singer who's done what I've done as a country singer," he asked in Rolling Stone. "There isn't one."