Rebel Rocker

Loud, proud and unapologetically himself, Kid Rock has forged a three-decades long music career, racking up fans all along the way who appreciate his straightforward attitude and original style.

Kid Rock, a.k.a. Robert James Ritchie, started out as a DJ, and propelled himself into a multi-platinum, award-winning American rock and roll icon whose musical styles range from hip hop and rock to heavy metal and country, selling more than 26 million albums around the world.

He’s famous for his classic “pimp” look that he’s been sporting on stage since the ’90s. Wild hats, sunglasses, fur coats, gold chains and track suits have all been part of his stage style. Recently he’s donned more country and patriotic apparel.

Drugs, alcohol and controversy have also surrounded his name. But Rock has never concerned himself with public opinion. He freely speaks his mind and knows his followers will always have his back. As for the rest, his attitude is ‘who cares?’

On the flip side of his party repertoire, Rock is also a fierce patriot, supporting America and its military members at every turn. He’s played several shows for military members and has volunteered his time serving them holiday meals.

He also uses his platform to bring awareness to veteran suicide rates and campaigns to get them help. Through his charity organization, the Kid Rock Foundation, he gives to many veteran organizations, as well as children’s causes and natural disaster victims.

Earlier this year, Rock held a virtual concert in conjunction with his 50th birthday to raise money for the Barstool  Fund, which supports small business owners in need of help due to the impacts of COVID-19. With his birthday fundraiser, Rock raised more than $200,000 for the Barstool Fund.

He has come a long way from his beginnings in Romeo, Michigan. 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.”

He 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, Rock broke through with his first major release, 1998’s “Devil Without A Cause,” backed by his popular singles “Bawitdaba,” “Cowboy” and “Only God Knows Why.”  The album sold 14 million copies and started his move from hard-hitting rap and heavy metal to a combination of Southern rock, country and blues.

Rock was nominated as Best New Artist at the 2000 Grammy Awards, and “Bawitdaba” was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance.

In 2001, Rock released his fifth studio album “Cocky,” which contained his hit single “Picture,” a country ballad featuring Sheryl Crow. His self-titled sixth studio album debuted in 2003, and was followed by 2007’s “Rock N Roll Jesus,” which was his first release to chart at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 172,000 copies in its first week.

The album’s single “All Summer Long,” became a summer party anthem and a worldwide hit. Rock knew 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 stated. “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.”

In 2010, he released “Born Free,” which was his first all-country album. “Rebel Soul” followed in 2012, which was his last album under Atlantic Records. The next year he moved on to Warner Records and released his self-produced 10th album, “First Kiss.” The album’s self-titled single was his biggest charted hit since “All Summer Long.”

“Sweet Southern Sugar,” released in 2017 is Rock’s latest release of new music. Although he released a “Greatest Hits” album the following year with 15 of his most popular tracks.

After the pandemic struck in 2020, Rock released an ’80s style dance track titled “Quarantine” under his alter ego DJ Bobby Shazam. In a radio interview with Detroit’s “Meltdown” station, he said that he used the time at home to write, which may mean a new Kid Rock album is on the horizon.

“I haven’t had this feeling since my first big record, ‘Devil Without A Cause,’ where I’ve had this much time to sit around and re-write, zero in, replay — just meticulously go song to song to song,” Rock said. “And I’ve got 18 that I’m in love with now, and four more that I wanna record. And I don’t know what the hell I’m gonna do with them. But thank God I’ve got my studio. That’s been my saving grace through this thing.”

Kid Rock is back on tour and stops Saturday, Oct. 16 (7 p.m.) at the Laughlin Event Center.