Darius Rucker Opens Up to Clint Black About Transitioning to Country Music in 2008

by Jacklyn Krol

Darius Rucker is a go big or go home kind of guy. Nothing showed off that mentality, and his drive to pursue his dreams, more so than when he switched things up from his booming career with Hootie & the Blowfish to pursue country music as a solo artist.

The rocker turned crooner spoke with fellow country artist Clint Black for his show Talking in Circles. During the conversation, Rucker says he spoke to his label Capitol Records about what a newcomer does. When they said radio tour, they didn’t believe someone of his caliber would do it. But to their surprise, he was all for it.

“For me it was, if we’re gonna do it on this level, I was going to give it all I had,” Rucker said per People. “I knew the best way I could do that was to let everybody that were the people playing the songs to know that I know I’m not anything in this genre. I’m just trying to get on the radio like everybody else. If you play my song, great. If not, hey man we had a beer, it was cool.”

He took that attitude with him. Radio station programmers enjoyed his single, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” The hit later made Darius the first Black artist to have a No. 1 country hit since 1983 by Charley Pride.

Darius Rucker’s Beginnings

Darius Rucker‘s taste in music has always been eclectic.

“You could hear R&B, rock ‘n’ roll and country on the same station,” Darius Rucker told Denver Post. “That was where it all started for me, being able to flip through the channels and never really hearing about what label something was.”

One of the first records he fell in love with was Radney Foster’s 1989 album Del Rio, TX, 1959. The songs made him fall in love with the genre and influenced him as a musician. His more current guilty pleasure is Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.”

“It really hit me hard and I loved it… and I kept always saying, ‘One day, I’m going to make a country record,’” he shared.

His first country music concert was Brooks & Dunn in Miami, Oklahoma. Not a bad introduction to the world of live Country music, considering they are the greatest selling Country duo of all time.

Rucker also opened up while speaking ABC about his first tour as an opener for Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley.

“We had just finished the Hootie tour probably six months before this is all happening,” he recalled to the outlet. “I’d go from headlining and selling out some of those arenas to being the baby band that gets 30 minutes. I thought, ‘This is really cool.’”

Winning his 2009 CMA New Artist of the Year award was the turning point for him. He knew that the genre accepted him and it was the right move.

“[Winning that award] was amazing,” he shared. “That’s also one of those iconic moments in my memories of everything that’s gone down in the last 10 years, is, you know, getting up and giving Zac Brown that big hug, and walking up there and…I was like, ‘Wow, that’s really unbelievable.’”