Hit ParadeSlate

Hit Parade: A Little Love and Some Tenderness Edition

How Darius Rucker defied genre stereotypes twice—first with Hootie & the Blowfish, then with his solo country stardom.

One of the most improbable blockbuster successes of the ’90s was Hootie and the Blowfish: a South Carolina bar band fronted by a Black lead singer that played jangly alt-pop. That singer, Darius Rucker, built a career that’s one of a kind. Rucker’s tastes growing up were eclectic, as were the influences on his young bandmates. Their Cracked Rear View album took a year to catch on, but then it dominated the charts.

The story gets more interesting after Hootie fell off: Darius Rucker’s career is a prime example of how chart success is a product of musical trend. First, Rucker tried to become a neo-soul star. Then he tried his hand at country music, even though Nashville had not produced a major Black solo star since Charley Pride.

Join Chris Molanphy as he traces this improbable journey—the role Rucker’s band played in mainstreaming alt-rock, Rucker’s effort to find a genre to call home, and how he finally became a chart-conqueror again..

Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.