File Darius Rucker and KISSGene Simmons under “unexpected friendships.” In fact, the bassist / singer of the rock band has a special nickname for his friend, and it’s not “Hootie.”

  • Rucker details the impact KISS had on his life in his new memoir, Life’s Too Short.
  • The pair were managed by the same manager (Doc McGhee) for nearly 20 years.
  • He talked to Evan Paul for Loudwire sister site’s radio program Taste of Country Nights.

Rucker opened up about his love for KISS, saying he listened to all their records growing up. “I was a KISS head,” he exclaims.

Later, he’d meet the band for the first time and slowly develop a friendship.

“Gene never calls me Darius,” he begins.

“He always calls me Old Man River. And he sings it (singing), ‘Old man river,'” he adds with a laugh.

The obvious follow-up questions is, “Why?”

“Because he says I’m a crooner. (Impersonating Simmons gravelly voice) ‘You’re a crooner man. You’re a crooner!'” Rucker answers with another laugh.

When the pair first met, Rucker was frontman for Hootie & the Blowfish. It’s easy to see how his band could have crossed paths with KISS at awards shows or similar industry events. The now-country singer’s vocal style is unique — we won’t go as far as to say he’s crooning, but he’s definitely telling his stories of love and heartbreak with a precise gusto uncommon in a format famous for dropping its “g’s” (comin’, lovin’, drinkin’ etc …).

Other, less surprising influences on Rucker and his music include Dwight Yoakam, New Grass Revival, Nancy Griffith and Lyle Lovett. He details his KISS love in a chapter called “Detroit Rock City.”

15 Country Artists Who Deserve to Be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

With Dolly Parton’s 2022 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — and, even more recently, Willie Nelson’s nomination for the 2023 class — it’s clearer than ever that country artists have a place in the Cleveland-based institution’s hallowed halls. But the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has always shown love to country performers, to a certain extent: Johnny Cash, Chet Akins, Brenda Lee, the Everly Brothers and Hank Williams are all past inductees.

Based on the criteria the Hall has set forth, that nominees should be acts who have had “a profound impact on youth culture,” there are still many more country artists who deserve their spot in the Hall. Flip through the gallery below to see Taste of Country’s top picks for who the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should induct next.

35 Songs That Prove Country and Rock Music Go Hand in Hand

With Dolly Parton’s recent induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the country and rock genres are closer than ever before — but she’s far from the first country artist to venture into rock territory, or vice versa. Here are 35 songs that show just how great the musical crossover between country and rock can be.

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