Darius Carlos Rucker (born May 13, 1966) is an American singer and songwriter. He first gained fame as the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the Grammy Award-winning American rock band Hootie & the Blowfish, which he founded in 1986 at the University of South Carolina along with Mark Bryan, Jim “Soni” Sonefeld and Dean Felber. The band has released five studio albums with him as a member, and charted six top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Rucker co-wrote the majority of the band’s songs with the other three members.
He released a solo R&B album, Back to Then, in 2002 on Hidden Beach Recordings but did not chart any singles from it. Six years later, Rucker signed to Capitol Nashville as a country music singer, releasing the album, Learn to Live that year. Its first single, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It”, made him the first black artist to reach number one on the Hot Country Songs charts since Charley Pride in 1983. (Ray Charles hit number one in March 1985 in a duet with Willie Nelson with Seven Spanish Angels). It was followed by two more number one singles, “It Won’t Be Like This for Long” and “Alright” and the number three, “History in the Making.” In 2009, he became the first black American to win the New Artist Award from the Country Music Association, and only the second black person to win any award from the association. A second album, Charleston, SC 1966, was released on October 12, 2010. The album includes the number one singles, “Come Back Song” and “This”.
In 2001, he made his solo R&B debut album, The Return of Mongo Slade, for Atlantic Records. Because of contractual changes, it was never released by the label. Hidden Beach Recordings, an independent label, acquired the masters from Atlantic and released the album as Back to Then in July 2002. The album included work from the production team of Jill Scott, and she made an appearance on the track “Hold On.”The single “This Is My World” was featured in the 2001 comedy film Shallow Hal. In regards to the album, “That was just a minute in my life,” he later told The Arizona Republic about the record. “I was listening to a lot of Notorious B.I.G. and Lauryn Hill at that time, and I wanted to make a neo soul record.”He also said in the article that he doesn’t anticipate recording an R&B-styled disc again. “Country music is my day job now. I’ll probably do this till it’s all over, but that album was a lot of fun.”
Rucker appeared on a pop-star edition of the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in July 2001.He also portrayed a singing cowboy in a television commercial for the fast-food company Burger King, promoting its TenderCrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch sandwich in 2005. In the commercial, he sang a jingle set to the tune of “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” In 2006 Rucker lent his voice to the track “God’s Reasons” written by Dean Dinning and Joel A. Miller for the film The Still Life.
Rucker is an ardent South Carolina Gamecocks fan as well as a Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Reds fan. He also likes the film Stir Crazy, which he has seen more than 100 times. To show his loyalty to his University, he gave a free concert which was held at the Colonial Life Arena that was free all because the football team was able to win 6 games the previous season after falling on some recent hard times.
Rucker’s mother died in November 1992 of a heart attack. His grief inspired two Hootie & the Blowfish songs: “I’m Goin’ Home” and “Not Even the Trees.”On April 21, 1995, his girlfriend gave birth to Rucker’s first child, Carolyn Pearl Phillips. His second daughter, Daniella Rose, was born to his wife, Beth, on May 16, 2001. They had a son, Jack, in 2005. The Hootie song “Where Were You” is about Rucker’s strained relationship with his father, and was released only in Europe, where Rucker thought that his father would be unlikely to hear it. His country single “Alright” was inspired by his marriage.
Rucker is a friend of the golfer Tiger Woods, whom he met in a bar when Woods was 18. Rucker sang at the golfer’s wedding with Hootie & the Blowfish and at his father’s funeral. His interest in golf goes well beyond his relationship with Woods; he was a VIP guest of Team USA at the 2016 Ryder Cup, and he attended Arnold Palmer’s funeral shortly before the Cup.
In North Charleston, South Carolina, a street is named Darius Rucker Boulevard after him.
On November 7, 2016, Rucker told ESPN that he had become a partner in MGC Sports, a sports agency that currently represents golfers (among them Steve Stricker and Kenny Perry), football players, and coaches. He added that he was planning to reduce his performance commitments from 100 dates per year to about 30, and that he thought that his experience in the entertainment business would be an asset to potential clients. Rucker will be able to work without restrictions for golfers, but because he is not registered with the NFL players’ union, he initially will only be able to meet with NFL players under very limited circumstances.
For the Undercover Boss series episode “Celebrity Undercover Boss: Darius Rucker” which premiered May 12, 2017, Rucker disguised himself as a 62 year old music teacher, ran an open mic night and worked as a roadie.