Darius Rucker biography
In 1994, Darius Rucker’s band Hootie & The Blowfish broke into the mainstream with Cracked Rear View. The record skyrocketed to No.1 and featured smash hits such as, "Hold My Hand," "Time," "Let Her Cry," and "I Only Want to Be With You," sold more than 16 million units, and earned the group two Grammy awards. Rucker went on to a successful solo career focused on country music.
Singer-songwriter Darius Rucker was born on May 13, 1966, in Charleston, South Carolina. Rucker later described his childhood as a "typical Southern African-American upbringing," involving long hours at church on Sundays and enduring various financial struggles. At many points in his life, his mother, two aunts, maternal grandmother and 14 children lived together in a three-bedroom apartment.
The Rucker family was very musical, and Darius frequently sang around the house to his mother's Al Green and Betty Wright albums. As Rucker grew older, he became more involved with his church and high school choirs. But it wasn't until he graduated from Middleton High School and entered the University of South Carolina that Rucker approached music with a career-driven eye.
In 1986, after meeting fellow musicians Mark Bryan, Jim Sonefeld, and Dean Felber, Rucker began forming musical ambitions. He formed the musical duo Wolf Brothers with friend Brian, and eventually convinced Felber to also join them. In 1986, the trio founded the band Hootie & The Blowfish, named after two USC classmates—one had owl-like glasses, the other had a rotund face—with Rucker as the frontman. The group played the college circuit for several years before convincing friend and drummer Sonefeld to join the fold. His songwriting skills made a strong impact on the rest of the band members, who also began stepping up their songwriting attempts.
After college, the quartet embarked on a full-time touring schedule, often performing in exchange for free beer or very little money. In 1991, the group released their debut album, the self-financed Kootchypop, which they began selling on the road. The EP, only available at their shows, sold more than 50,000 copies—a big success for a self-promoted band. Their success gained the interest of an Atlantic Records talent scout, who signed the group.
Hootie & The Blowfish
In 1994, Hootie & The Blowfish broke into the mainstream on the Atlantic label with their album Cracked Rear View. The record skyrocketed to No.1, and featured smash hits such as, "Hold My Hand," "Time," "Let Her Cry," and "I Only Want to Be With You." The group's blusey harmonica solos—working in tandem with Rucker's deep, baritone voice—gave the band a unique sound that caught the attention of listeners. The album sold more than 16 million units, and went Diamond in both the U.S. and the U.K. It also impressed musical critics, earning the group two Grammy awards.
In 1996, on the heels of their success from Cracked Rear View, Rucker and the group released their highly anticipated follow-up, Fairweather Johnson.
The album didn't enjoy the same phenomenal sales as their debut, but still performed well on the charts. In 1998, after the band released the album Musical Chairs, Rucker began focusing on a solo career. After a year-long delay on the album's release, due to contractual issues with Atlantic, Rucker released his mellow R&B record, Back to Then, on the Hidden Beach Recordings label in 2002.
Rucker continued to tour and perform with Hootie & The Blowfish while working on his sophomore solo effort, a country album called Learn to Live. The album's first single, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" jumped to to Top 20 on the Billboard charts in July of 2008, making Rucker the first African-American singer to reach the top of the country charts since Charley Pride in 1988. Rucker's newfound fame in the country realm also earned him an invitation to the Grand Ole Opry later that year, and his performance earned a standing ovation.
Rucker's single eventually hit No. 1 on the country charts, and the album received platinum status in 2009. The album's next two singles "It Won't Be Like This For Long" and "Alright" also hit No. 1 on the charts, making Rucker the first country music singer to have his first three singles reach No. 1 since Wynona Judd in 1992. Rucker's album also gained the attention of critics, and earned him two Country Music Association award nominations in 2009, including Male Vocalist of the Year. He has also been tapped to perform at the ceremony.
In his private life, Rucker enjoys football, and hanging out with close friends Brad Paisley and Tiger Woods. He married long-time girlfriend Beth Leonard in 2000. The couple resides in Charleston, South Carolina, with their two children. Rucker also has a child with a former girlfriend—the same woman who is the subject of his song "Let Her Cry."