League of His Own
America’s favorite bad-ass is headed back to Laughlin and that means a musical storm is on the horizon.
When Kid Rock hits the stage on Saturday, Nov. 10, he unleashes a hurricane of energy, philosophy and songs, the likes of which the town has never seen. Think controlled burn that gets a little out of hand or trying to hold a tornado in your palm.
This time he’s armed with his latest project, Greatest Hits You Never Saw Coming, a collection of 15 remastered smash hits from two decades in one monster release.
All tracks, recorded since 1998, reflect 20 years of cross-genre hits during Rock’s Warner Music Group era.
Talk about the ultimate Kid Rock collection. Containing seven of his most-streamed tracks, it spans early seminal favorites such as “Bawitdaba” and “Cowboy” in addition to timeless anthems like “Picture” (featuring Sheryl Crow) and “All Summer Long” — which reached No. 1 in eight countries.
Also included are recent favorites “First Kiss” from 2015’s First Kiss album and “American Rock ’n Roll” fresh from last year’s chart-topping Sweet Southern Sugar.
Additionally, it includes the Dixie remix of “Wasting Time” and the fan favorite “American Bad Ass.”
Rock’s diamond-certified Devil Without a Cause celebrated its 20th anniversary in August of this year. The album paved the way for the quintuple-platinum Cocky, triple-platinum Rock n Roll Jesus, and more.
Kid Rock, by his own definition, is front and center, loud, irreverent, opinionated, controversial — he’s about action and getting things done. Yet he is a listener with a big heart — who, more often than not, puts others’ needs before his own. He doesn’t apologize or make excuses for any of it. The whole point of his existence is to be different.
Sometimes his actions and love interests find their way into the supermarket tabloids, but Rock is so much more than that. It is his musical talent that elevates him beyond the tabloid nonsense and lands him on the top of the charts—giving him true star status.
“Depending on where you get your information from, I’m either a hard-drinking, tabloid freak who’s always getting into fights, or a great guy who gives to charity, spends time with the troops in Iraq and raised his son to have decent values. I can be either of those people,” Rock said.
Rock, a.k.a. Robert James Ritchie, is a contradiction in terms, but that’s what makes him newsworthy and notorious—and that’s why his fans are loyal to a fault. He is part rocker and humanitarian, musician and actor, businessman and artist, activist and patriot, dedicated father and good friend.
Growing up in Romeo, Michigan, Ritchie found small-town life dull and became interested in rap music early, learning how to break-dance and participating in talent shows in the Detroit area.
At age 11, he joined a break-dance crew called the Furious Funkers and taught himself to work a cheap belt-driven turntable. In high school, Ritchie worked as a DJ at parties for beer.
He eventually joined Bo Wisdom of Groove Time Productions in Mt. Clemens, Michigan to perform basement parties for $30 a night. He chose his stage name while performing at these venues; club goers dubbed him “Kid Rock” after they had enjoyed watching “that white kid rock.”
Rock performed rap and hip-hop with five releases between 1990 and 1997, including a reissue and an EP. After signing a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 1998, he gained commercial success in the rap rock genre behind the singles “Bawitdaba,” “Cowboy” and “Only God Knows Why” (the latter foreshadowing his move into country rock).
After three independent albums, Rock broke through with his first major release, 1998’s Devil Without A Cause, a 13-million selling CD that kick-started his move from hard-hitting rap and heavy metal to a more rounded combination of Southern rock, soul ballads and country and blues.
The title song was pushed into mainstream pop culture due to its use in the trailer for the movie Gladiator starring Russell Crowe. It was also heard in the movies Any Given Sunday and Ready To Rumble as well as the TV shows “Nash Bridges” and “The Simpsons.”
“Cowboy,” a mix of Southern rock, country and rap was not only a Top 40 hit, it was featured in movies such as Shangai Noon, Coyote Ugly, Matchstick Man and Serving Sara. Rock’s next single off the album, the slow, back porch blues ballad “Only God Knows Why,” was the biggest hit off the album, charting at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100.
From the beginning, Kid Rock’s music hasn’t been for the faint of heart or the judgmental. Most of his stuff comes with parental warning labels about content —and for good reason.
He has rapped his way through a raunchy catalog of what else: sex, drugs and rock and roll. But hidden between the tales of pimps and prostitutes, are forays into injustice or religious hypocrisy, starving children, racism, and dying soldiers.
His hits also include “You Never Met a Mother****** Quite Like Me” and “American Bad Ass.”
Rock was nominated as Best New Artist at the 2000 Grammy Awards, and Best Hard Rock Performance for “Bawitdaba.”
From time to time, Rock’s tunes became theme songs for some of WWF’s (now WWE’s) most popular figures. “American Bad Ass,” was used as the Undertaker’s theme song for his “biker from hell” gimmick.
Rock landed his first acting role in the David Spade comedy Joe Dirt in 2001. That same year, his History of Rock album was certified double platinum, selling more than four million copies worldwide.
Rock’s follow-up records became more rock, country, and blues-oriented, starting with 2001′s Cocky. His collaboration with Sheryl Crow on the song “Picture” was his first country hit and biggest pop hit in the U.S. to date charting at No. 4 on the Hot 100.
When “Picture” was released, it introduced Kid Rock to a wider audience and was ultimately the most successful single on the album.
Rock’s 2007 album Rock n Roll Jesus featuring the song “All Summer Long,” charted at No. 1 in eight countries across Europe and Australia, and the music video received more than 48 million views on YouTube.
“All Summer Long” mashed up elements of Warren Zevon’s 1978 hit “Werewolves of London” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1974 signature tune “Sweet Home Alabama,” in a wistful tale of childhood summers spent Up North fishing, drinking and chasing girls.
Rock knew from the start he had something special with that song.
“On this one I just feel more comfortable in my own skin than I have ever felt as an artist, as a songwriter, as a father — just as a human being,” Rock said. “This is the record that everything has come together on. The songwriting has really stepped up, the playing, the singing and all those genres that I’ve stepped in and been like a creative chameleon. And people are finally accepting me for who I am.
“I knew people would hear ‘All Summer Long’ and know I wrote it. They’d know it was real, and there’d be that connection. And that’s what’s missing in music today. I think people don’t believe half the sh– they hear some rapper or some pop girl singing about … but with me, they do. And that’s why people have reacted the way they have to the song.”
Rock released Rebel Soul in November 2012 behind the rock hit “Let’s Ride.” The album was certified gold in April 2013.
A revealing quote from Kid Rock gets to the heart of his make-up.
“I tell people in my organization, ‘Do not ever come up to me and say, this is what everyone’s doing and how they’re doing it.’ Don’t ever give me that lame-ass bullsh*t.’ As soon as someone says, ‘You have to be on iTunes … they’re the No. 1 retailer’ … I don’t have to. Because I remember being a kid when I heard a song that I liked, I would jump on the bus, ride to Detroit, get a $2.50 transfer and walk a mile to the hip-hop store to buy the new Eric B. & Rakim record. You’re not going to stop people from obtaining what they want if it’s available at some level.
“My whole career, I’ve done that. Whenever everyone’s headed in the same direction, I turn around and run the other way.”
When Rock, with all his wild man energy, flying his patriotic colors, hits the stage in Laughlin on Saturday, Nov. 10, right before Veterans Day, fans know he will give the show everything he has.
His fans can’t get enough of his raw honesty, his showmanship, and the fact Rock has never shied from his unique repertoire that makes him such a standout performer.
Rock’s success story could very well be his symbolic way of extending his middle finger to all of those industry suits who still don’t get him at all, and probably never will.