Darius Rucker never questioned the fact that country music is where he belonged. Even when he was serving as frontman for GRAMMY-winning rock group Hootie & the Blowfish in the 1990s, he admits he was pulled to the music and lyrics of Nashville. But it wasn’t until 2008, when he released his debut country solo album Learn to Live (which went straight to No. 1), that he realized this dream was finally within reach.
Still, even Rucker couldn’t have imagined how well the journey would go. His following two albums, Charleston, S.C. 1966 and this year’s True Believers, both soared to the top of the charts. Together they’ve so far spawned six No. 1 singles and sold more than two million copies. And perhaps most importantly, in 2012 Rucker was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry, permanently affixing his place in country music history.
Rucker talked with Radio.com while on the red carpet at the recent ACM Honors about his success, his family and the one accolade that surprised even him.
Radio.com: From your very first country single, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” you have been well received. Why do you think that is?
Darius Rucker: The music. I think I made records, since early on, that people wanted to listen to. And I think when I took my single to radio, they couldn’t say it wasn’t country. That was something that was really important to us. And I think that helped, and I think I’m kind of a nice guy. Being a nice guy, trying to prove that nice guys don’t always finish last.
You write almost every song on your albums. Why is that important to you?
Because I’m a songwriter. Don’t get me wrong, if I had gotten 13 great songs that I didn’t write, I would have recorded them. But I wanted to write songs. I like writing about my life and what’s going on with me, so it was important for me to write that stuff.
You spend so much time on the road. How do you keep the romance alive with your wife, Beth?
For a date night at home, we’ll get a baby-sitter to come over, and we’ll go to one of the great restaurants in Charleston. We’ll go and have a great dinner and share a nice bottle of wine, and come home and have a great night at home. We’re real simple. Because, when you’re parents, you get so little time to do stuff like that, so we’re real simple. We like to go out to dinner and just really enjoy each other.
Charleston recently named a street after you, the Darius Rucker Boulevard. What do your kids [Carolyn, 18, Daniella, 12 and Jack, 8] think about that?
You know, my kids don’t care about anything. I’m just Dad to them. They don’t get excited about anything. But my family, my sisters and brothers, and the other ones who grew up in Charleston, we think it’s awesome. There’s a lot of stuff I thought I’d do in the world, but I never thought I’d have a street named after me in my hometown. It’s a great feeling. That’s the kind of stuff that happens after you’re dead. It’s great to have it happen while I’m still a relatively young man. The best part is the Coliseum is on there. The Coliseum is on that road, so every time somebody’s going to play the Coliseum, they have to have Darius Rucker Boulevard on their GPS.
-Gayle Thompson, Radio.com