Darius Rucker rose to fame as the founder and lead singer of the successful rock band, Hootie & the Blowfish in the '90s. The group released four studio albums over the next decade, including their freshman Cracked Rear View, which sold more than 21 million copies worldwide.
When Rucker decided to leave rock music behind and focus on country music, no one, perhaps not even Rucker, imagined how well he would do. The South Carolina native released his fifth studio album, When Was the Last Time, in 2017, which included his ninth No. 1 single, "For the First Time."
Rucker knew he would have to work hard to earn the approval of country music fans, but he didn't quite anticipate how warmly he would be received by the entire genre.
"At that point in life and career, I had young kids," Rucker told PopCulture.com at a recent media event, recalling the moment he switched genres. "I think my daughter was 7 and my son was 3, and my oldest daughter was 13. And now they're all a lot older, 10 years older. And really, the whole thing has changed. It's amazing to me, 25 years after I started, I'm still here, and I think we had another No. 1 song. And it's amazing to me that this is still happening, and it's still fun."
"I feel like a young 52 years old, I think, because I'm still gonna play music on this scale," he continued. "And Charles Kelley, when George Strait announced that he was gonna retire, Charles Kelley called me and said 'Hey man, I was thinking, you know, you're the oldest guy on country radio right now.' That's the really, for me, the biggest change, and the biggest thing, is just I can't believe I'm still getting to do it like this."
Rucker has had plenty of pinch-me moments since releasing Learn to Live in 2008, including his induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 2012. But asked to pick a favorite memory, and Rucker instantly has a few.
"Winning that CMA for Best New Artist, and hugging Zac Brown, who had that once," Rucker recounted of his 2009 win. "And we've been best friends for life, forever. You know, that's a moment I will always, always remember."
"Sitting in the back of that car, and my publicist starting to cry, and looking at me and saying, 'You just won a GRAMMY,'" he added of his 2014 win for Best Country Solo Performance, for "Wagon Wheel." "I'll never forget that ... It's been a crazy 10 years. It's been a crazy, crazy, awesome 10 years."
Photo Credit: Getty images/Suzanne Cordeiro