Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” Earns Diamond Certification

by Preshias Harris / 33 days ago / Comments
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Number One party for char-topping “Beers and Sunshine”

Darius Rucker has had a longer second career – since signing with Capitol Records Nashville in 2008 – than most of the artists currently appearing on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts have enjoyed with their entire careers.  As second careers go, it has been remarkably successful.

Some of his most recent success was recognized at a celebration held October 26 at The Electric Jane in Nashville, hosted by UMG Nashville. The event celebrated Rucker’s recording of “Wagon Wheel” receiving RIAA’s Diamond certification, making it only the fourth country song to reach this distinction.

Additionally, the event commemorated Rucker’s ten chart-topping country singles.  And for good measure, it served as the Number One Party for his most recent hit single, “Beers and Sunshine.” 

Prior to the awards presentation, I joined some other media members to sit down with Darius in a ‘round robin’ Q&A session that covered a wide range of topics.

I began by asking Darius about the unique story behind the writing and recording of “Beers and Sunshine.” The song was not only written over Zoom (by Darius in collaboration with songwriters Ross Copperman, J.T, Harding and Josh Osborne) but was also produced by Copperman over Zoom, as a way to maintain the creativity despite the restrictions imposed by the Covid pandemic.

“That was so nervy,” said Darius. “I don’t ever want to do it again! Nobody was ever in the room together to record.  One of my favorite things about music is you’re making an album, you get a bunch of great musicians in a room and you’re just making music. But with this, Frank [Rogers] just really called the drummer and said, ‘lay the drum part.’ Everything was done that way, even my vocals were done on Zoom.  That was something that was new.  The song sounds great, so you can’t be mad at it, but as far as feeling it while you were doing it, it was so different.”

Darius noted that it was quite a challenge, not being in a studio with the other musicians and adding his vocals via the Zoom connection. “It was crazy and I love the song and it sounds great,” he noted, “But I never want to do it again.”

The fun, island vibe of “Beers and Sunshine” obviously struck a chord with listeners, summed up by the line: “The only BS I need is beers and sunshine.”

Watch the official “Beers and Sunshine” music video (7.1m views and counting) here.

I reminded Darius that we had first met, in the 1990s, when he had taken the time to participate in a celebrity golf fundraiser, and much of his life continues to be devoted to philanthropy. I asked him what it is that makes the Hootie & The Blowfish Foundation so important to him.

Pointing out the unique difference, Darius emphasized, “With that Foundation, we do so much hands-on stuff.  We pick twenty or so charities and we go and do some hands-on stuff instead of just giving it to some big society to use it for overhead or whatever.  We’d rather be hands-on.  For us, giving back has always been important.”

This was an important objective for Darius and fellow band members right from the start of their careers.  “I remember when we were playing clubs and we’d play a charity show for an orphanage every year in Columbia [SC] because they need money,” he recalled.  “Now, with the Foundation, we get to put money in there and help more people and more people and more people. That was our plan and it’s great to see it growing.”

Read more about the Hootie & The Blowfish Foundation and the fine work they do, particularly for underprivileged children, here.

Darius also talked about how he had been “blown away” when he saw the trio Chapel Hart on Twitter and then invited them to provide backing vocals to the song “Ol’ Church Hymn” that he had written with Ben Hayslip, Greylan James and Josh Miller. The song is expected to be part of his next album, as yet unnamed.

In answer to a question about the passing of Loretta Lynn, he recalled that she was supportive of him from the time he arrived in Nashville. He thought it was amazing that she even knew who he was, let alone praise him in public. He said that they became good friends and he will miss her.

During the awards ceremony, kicked off by emcee Kelly Sutton, the praises came thick and fast, both for Darius and the cowriters of “Beers and Sunshine.”

“Ross Copperman is a recurring theme in my documents,” said Josh Tomlinson (Director, Creative, Nashville, BMI).  “In the last decade alone, this guy has had more Number Ones than years I’ve been alive, and I’m thirty, so do the math. That’s a lot! He’s not only a writer on this song but he also produced the absolute hell out of it, maintaining the iconic Darius Rucker sound and still giving it this ear worm-worthy status that’s been stuck in our ears for a very long time. He’s been a BMI Songwriter of the Year, he’s produced songs that have defined albums and bands and has still managed to maintain a healthy balance with his family – which is actually what we were talking about earlier. He said, ‘What time does this thing start? My kid’s got a soccer game this afternoon.’ And I’m like, ‘Ross, you wrote a Number One song. Let’s figure this thing out.’”

Tomlinson added, “To Josh Osborne and JT Harding, and to Darius as well, this song is absolutely incredible and we’re really excited to be here celebrating with you guys. It’s well deserved. Ross, it never gets old telling you ‘congratulations on another Number One song.’ Let’s do it again in, like, two weeks.”

Mike Sistad, ASCAP’s Vice President, Nashville Membership, was equally voluble in his praise for “Beers and Sunshine” and the unique effort that brought the song to life.

As Today anchor Craig Melvin presented the RIAA Diamond/11X Platinum Award to Darius and producer Frank Rogers for “Wagon Wheel,” it was noted that only three other country songs had achieved this remarkable milestone: “Cruise” recorded by Florida Georgia Line, “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton and “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus.  “Wagon Wheel” now joins that exclusive club.

Darius’ version of “Wagon Wheel,” recoded in 2013, is a cover of the song released in 2004 by Old Crow Medicine Show, written by OCMS’s Ketch Secor, based on a bootleg demo of a song by Bob Dylan (who also receives songwriting credit). The Darius Rucker version has continued to sell steadily over the past nine years, having already passed the ‘Diamond’ plateau of ten million units consumed and showing no sign of slowing down.

In his remarks, UMG Chairman and CEO Mike Dungan that it took “a leap of faith” to sign Darius as a Country act after he had become nationally famous for fronting Hootie & The Blowfish. But with ten Number One Country hits and a Diamond certification, it was a risk that had paid off.

In response to all the preceding comments, Darius remained typically humble, saying that he came to Nashville because he simply wanted to make music.  “I can’t thank you guys enough for the life you’ve given me,” he said.

More about Darius Rucker at his website with tour and ticket info including the four-day HootieFest: The Big Splash in Cancun, Mexico, in April 2023. Follow Darius on Instagram and Twitter (@dariusrucker) and on Facebook.

PHOTO: "Beers And Sunshine" Songwriters Celebrate the No. 1 Song (L to R: Josh Osborne, Ross Copperman, Darius Rucker, J.T. Harding). Photo Credit: Steve Lowry

 

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Darius Rucker Tour Dates

02/17/2023 : PNC Arena: Raleigh, NC
04/21/2023 : River Spirit Casino Resort: Tulsa, OK
04/21/2023 : River Spirit Casino Resort: Tulsa, OK
04/26/2023 : HOOTIEFEST: The Big Spalsh 2023: Cancun,
06/17/2023 : Barefoot Country Music Fest 2023: Wildwood, NJ
06/23/2023 : Fenway Park: Boston, MA
07/14/2023 : Windy City Smokeout 2023: Chicago, IL
07/15/2023 : Lakefront Music Fest 2023: Prior Lake, MN
10/13/2023 : Rolex Stadium: Lexington, KY

About Preshias Harris

Preshias Harris Journalist

Preshias Harris is a music journalist who has interviewed everyone from Alabama to ZZ Top for articles and stories published in numerous music magazines. She is the author of longest-running monthly country music column in America and authored The College of Songology™ 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s ‘Need To Know’ Reference Handbook. As a music career development consultant with special emphasis on emerging and aspiring artists and songwriters, she focuses on ‘chasing the dream’ while understanding the realities of the music industry. She maintains a writers’ room on Music Row – named The Sangtuary – for her clients and their co-writers. She is a member of ASCAP (as a publisher), BMI, The Country Music Association (CMA), The Recording Academy, The National Association of Talent Directors (NATD) and a life member of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).

You can find out more about Preshias at https://www.collegeofsongology.com and find her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com