NASCAR Embraces Rucker as He Goes Country
Darius Rucker has made the successful transition from rock star to country music star. Rucker, who performed a concert and the national anthem before the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, answers this week's six questions.
1. How many times have you performed at NASCAR events now?
Rucker: By myself with the country thing, this is the fourth event I've done with NASCAR. It's just so easy. You've really got to hand it to NASCAR. The crowd is just built-in; it's like my constituency. You can come play for 45 minutes and either stay to watch the race or go home, and you know the fans and the folks from NASCAR are going to treat you well.
I'm still shocked by how well this country thing has gone for me. I was going to do this in my basement with my buddies. ... I didn't expect this. I expected to make my [country] record and be forgotten.
2. Did you go to any NASCAR races before performing at them?
Rucker: Oh, sure. I've been to Darlington a couple times back before I got famous. I had to pay to sit all the way up in the nose-bleed seats. I love NASCAR.
Michael Waltrip and I got to be good buddies about 15 years ago, and now Jimmie [Johnson] and I have become good friends. Now I'm always pulling for a number and also pulling for a good friend, and that's pretty cool.
3. How did you become friends with Jimmie?
Rucker: He came to Charleston and wanted to play golf with some buddies, who called me up. We started hanging out together, and it was fun. He's a great guy.
4. And you performed at one of his Jimmie Jams, too, right?
Rucker: I did. I try to do that for friends who have charity foundations like he does. It's so easy for me to pull my crew in and do a show to help raise funds for good causes like that, so it's something I like to try to do for friends.
5. You're in the middle of being on the road for basically a month straight. What does that do to your golf game?
Rucker: It's good. I've got more time to play. I definitely win when I play Jimmie. He's getting better, but I definitely can handle playing him.
I play five days a week, and my handicap is about a 7. I wish I could play every day. And Jimmie? Uh, he's probably a 12 or a 13, but he's getting it. But he hasn't been playing as long as I have. Those boys he plays with are out there having a good time. They really know how to do that. We just have a blast. They're all really cool dudes.
6. What's it like going solo in country after playing in the successful rock band Hootie and the Blowfish?
Rucker (laughing): Not having to split the check up is a real good thing. It's cool being able to make all the decisions. Hootie and the Blowfish is a band, and the four of us always vote -- so if you vote one way and the other three vote the other way, you're out of luck. So it's pretty cool being able to make all the decisions yourself.
But, oh yeah, Hootie and the Blowfish will play again. We've been talking about it. It's not going to be next year because I have a [country music] record coming out and I'm going to go on a record tour. But we'll get together at some point to go out and play together again.