‘Such Was Our Way of Life’

Darius Rucker possesses a wealth of anecdotes — ranging from raucous escapades with Hootie & the Blowfish during their formative years to a brush with mortality while swimming alongside Woody Harrelson.

Almost three decades subsequent to his university rock ensemble’s breakthrough with their inaugural album Cracked Rear View, one of the best-selling albums ever, and a decade and a half after transitioning to country music, Rucker ponders on his path to the present — encompassing both his musical endeavors and escapades — in his autobiography, Life’s Too Short, currently available.

“I’ve experienced a considerable amount of life,” Rucker divulges to Yahoo Entertainment regarding his decision that the moment is opportune, at 58, to divulge his personal contemplations. Moreover, “The children have reached maturity,” he mentions in reference to his now-grown offspring — Carolyn, Daniella and Jack.

He assures that there isn’t anything within the autobiography that he hadn’t already shared with them, yet Rucker delves into his indulgence in narcotics and alcohol during the Hootie epoch.

In his writing, he states, “The revelry is perpetual. Whatever you possess” — encompassing cocaine, mushrooms, and ecstasy — “I’m on board.” They indulge “from dawn, through dusk, into the night, and then the subsequent day.”

Rucker gives an account of being intoxicated at the 1996 Grammys — when Hootie snagged awards for Best New Artist and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group — and “comatose and coiled” when it was his turn to perform at a Bill Clinton fundraising event.

He relates an anecdote about a stagehand, previously with the Rolling Stones in their golden period, who professed he’d never encountered an ensemble that indulged as intensely as Hootie. Rucker also reminisced to bandmate Dean Felber: “We should be deceased.”

Life's Too Short A Memoir By Darius Rucker (Dey Street Books)Life's Too Short A Memoir By Darius Rucker (Dey Street Books)

Darius Rucker’s autobiography Life’s Too Short is currently obtainable. (Dey Street Books)

“That era was entirely distinct,” Rucker remarks. “That’s roughly 20 years back, perhaps even a little longer, when I ceased all that,” he states, alluding to his cessation of heavy drug use. “I comprehended that I was merely pursuing joy and wasn’t content. I attempted to discover it through those routes — and comprehended that they don’t lead there.”

The reveling morphed into a habit they found themselves ensnared in, he notes. “Such was our way of life — like at five in the afternoon someone handed me a bottle of Jim Beam. It was simply our routine until we finally ceased.”

He continues, “I reminisce about that period with affection — I don’t believe I would’ve opted for a divergent path — but I’m relieved all four of us survived it.” (Rucker was taken into custody in February for holding marijuana and psilocin capsules, stemming from an episode in 2023. On the Today show on May 28, he expressed his arrest as “It is what it is,” explaining that a companion who was relocating presented him with “some substances,” since they couldn’t be transported by flight. “My attorneys are handling it.”)

Hootie & the Blowfish: Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, Darius Rucker and Jim SonefeldHootie & the Blowfish: Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, Darius Rucker and Jim Sonefeld

Members of Hootie & the Blowfish: from left, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, Rucker, and Jim Sonefeld. (Disney/Gregg DeGuire)

Post the group’s 2005 album, they mutually concluded to cease producing new tunes while preserving their camaraderie and charitable collaborations. In 2019, they reunited for Imperfect Circle. This season, they reassemble for a tour. The atmosphere promises to be far more subdued.

“In earlier times, it consisted of the foursome aboard a bus, each vying to outdo the others in festivity,” Rucker recounts. “Presently, everyone possesses their individual tour bus accommodating their families on the road. It’s an entirely different beast now.”

It might well be their concluding performance in terms of tours. “We don’t desire to be the ensemble proclaiming it’s their last round only to return, but I’m unsure if we’ll undertake it anew,” he contemplates.

They’ll be taking the stage while Cracked Rear View marks its 30-year anniversary in July.

“I gave it a listen not long ago and deem it still exhibits excellence,” he comments on the album, which features hits like “Hold My Hand,” “Only Wanna Be With You,” and “Let Her Cry.” “To possess a record that ranks among the highest in sales of all time is an achievement well beyond one’s dreams. Being involved in that is stupendous. And it continues to sell. It recently ascended to 22 [million]. It’s wonderful to witness the album’s endurance over time.”

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 28:   Rock group Hootie & the Blowfish attends the 38th Annual Grammy Awards on February 28, 1996 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images) LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 28:   Rock group Hootie & the Blowfish attends the 38th Annual Grammy Awards on February 28, 1996 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

The ensemble garnered two Grammys, encompassing Best New Artist, in 1996. (Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

The individual born in Charleston, S.C., discusses in his life story how the ascent to stardom with Hootie’s explosion in 1994 — following their television introduction on Late Show With David Letterman — posed challenges. His cherished mother, Carolyn, departed abruptly in 1992 and, in the whirlwind of fame, his alienated father reemerged seeking money. He also discovered more than once his inability to rely on his drug-dependent brother.

Disclosing these narratives publically proved to be both healing and arduous, Rucker acknowledges. Equally testing was “revealing the authentic tale of how inadequate a spouse I was,” he concedes.

Carolyn Rucker, Darius Rucker, Daniela Rucker and Jack Rucker at the star ceremony where Darius Rucker is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 4, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images)Carolyn Rucker, Darius Rucker, Daniela Rucker and Jack Rucker at the star ceremony where Darius Rucker is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 4, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images)

Rucker alongside his offspring Carolyn, Daniela, and Jack during his star dedication ceremony on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in December. (Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images)

In the autobiography, with a passage entitled “Beth,” he expresses gratitude to former partner Beth Leonard for not solely nurturing their progeny but also rescuing his life. “I desired the entire world to recognize how outstanding a person she is and how it was not her fault, rather mine,” that strained the marriage, he asserts.

A positive outcome in his life was the shift to the country music genre in 2008. A long-time admirer, he never pictured the feasibility of transitioning into this particular domain.

“When I first contemplated it, I did not believe I could secure a recording contract,” he reveals. “This is not an exaggeration. Firstly, they detest pop musicians transitioning to country music, and additionally, I am the Black man. Who is willing to offer me a recording contract?”

In his novel, Rucker recounts how his influential manager, Doc McGhee, who similarly steered the destinies of Bon Jovi and Kiss, swayed Mike Dungan, then the head of Capitol Records Nashville, into presenting Rucker with a conctract — without disclosing the signer’s identity beforehand.

“Contrary to what I believed, I obtained a recording deal, and it was with Capitol, which housed the most excellent president in the division at that time, someone who sincerely had faith in me,” Rucker articulates. “One of the most memorable declarations anyone ever made to me was Mike Dungan’s: ‘I never really got that Hootie interpretation, but I always regarded you as a country artist.’ I never envisioned the triumph I have achieved.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26:  Singer Darius Rucker, winner of Best Country Solo Performance for 'Wagon Wheel,' poses in the press room during the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26:  Singer Darius Rucker, winner of Best Country Solo Performance for 'Wagon Wheel,' poses in the press room during the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Rucker brought home a Grammy in 2014 for “Wagon Wheel” in the category of Best Country Solo Performance. (Frazer Hirrison/Getty Images)

The artist of “Wagon Wheel” has since witnessed four of his records clinch the top spot on the country charts upon their debut, secured induction into the revered Grand Ole Opry in 2012, and claimed the Grammy accolade for Best Country Solo Performance in 2014.

“My sole aspiration is to persist in the pursuit of music,” he divulges concerning his potential endeavors. “I relish hitting the road for tours. The variables beyond my command, I don’t even entertain—like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, we’d celebrate the opportunity [to be inducted]. I’d be honored to even make the slate once. At this juncture in my career, having illuminated the large platform for three decades, my ambition is simply to continue performing for as long as the audience continues to flock to my performances.”

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