Darius Rucker Honored For Two Career Milestones – One Involving His Mega-Hit ‘Wagon Wheel’

Business

Fellow songwriters, musicians, and industry executives gathered in downtown Nashville to celebrate Darius Rucker’s latest No. 1 hit, “Beers and Sunshine.”

Written by Rucker, Josh Osborne, Ross Copperman, and J.T. Harding – the song mark’s Rucker’s tenth single to go all the way to the top of the country music charts.

They recalled how they wrote the song in the early months of the COVID pandemic. Nashville songwriting sessions typically involve writers physically gathering together in a writing room, but during COVID, everyone was forced to take a different approach and brainstorm via Zoom calls.

“We got on Zoom and it was weird, but also so much fun,” Rucker recalled, “because Zoom is no-nonsense. When you get together in a writing room, you sit around, you talk about your kids, you talk about what’s going on, and you take 40 minutes before you start writing. Not on Zoom. On Zoom it’s like, ‘Let’s write the song!’”

He says after they wrote “Beers and Sunshine,” they knew it was something special.

“And then, Ross (Copperman) went out of his way to record this whole record on Zoom. Nobody was ever in the room together. Ross would get the drummer to play, then he’d get the bass player to play, and when everything was done, he got my vocals over Zoom.”

“Beers and Sunshine” may be the first song written and recorded on Zoom to reach No. 1 on the country charts.

Rucker seems bent on making history. “Beers and Sunshine” follows other chart-toppers like “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” “It Won’t Be Like This for Long,” and “Alright,” just to name a few.

He says it’s almost hard to believe how far he’s come as a country artist.

“It’s pretty exciting. Because not really expecting much from the beginning, then having success out of the box and now 16 years later, ten No. 1’s. That’s pretty amazing.”

And now, his mega-hit “Wagon Wheel” has officially sold more than 11 million copies (streaming and sales combined). It’s still selling so fast, label executives didn’t have a chance to commemorate reaching RIAA Diamond status (which is 10 million copies), before it sold an additional one million.

NBC “Today Show” anchor Craig Melvin, a friend of Rucker’s and a fellow South Carolina-native, traveled to Nashville to mark the occasion.

Advertisement

“When they said Darius had achieved something with “Wagon Wheel,” that only four songs in the history of country music had achieved, I was like, I’ve got to be there. This is history in the making.”

Melvin pointed out that Rucker’s superstar status as a country music artist follows his longtime success as lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish with pop hits like “Hold My Hand,” “Let Her Cry,” and “I Only Want to Be with You.”

“It’s another thing entirely to have lightning strike twice in a major way,” Melvin said. “And it did for him.”

Melvin also touched on Rucker’s heart for “giving back,” with his support of more than 200 charities, and his reputation for not just donating money but “showing up” to help and give his time.

In noting the success of “Wagon Wheel,” UMG Nashville Chairman/CEO Mike Dungan – who first signed Rucker to his record deal years ago, explained that “Wagon Wheel” was Rucker’s idea from the beginning. He recounted how Rucker called him one night from his daughter’s talent show in Baltimore where Rucker had seen some teachers, counselors and custodians perform the song. Dungan described the brief conversation:

“Darius goes, ‘Hey man,” you know that song, Wagon Wheel?’

I said, ‘Yeah.’

He goes, ‘Hey man,’ I’m gonna cut it.’

I said, ‘I don’t know that that’s a song anybody should ever try to cover.’

Darius said, ‘I’m gonna cut it,’ and hung up.

As Dungan turned to look at Rucker, Rucker laughed and said, “You weren’t saying what I wanted you to say.”

Dungan nods, then says, “And my God he was right.”

Rucker, who credits much of the song’s success to Lady A adding vocals and producer Frank Rogers’ work in the studio, says he never imagined it would be become such a big hit. He just liked the song and wanted people to hear it. Now, everywhere he goes, it gets a tremendous response, even during a recent performance at the Grand Ole Opry.

“Wagon Wheel has become part of the lexicon,” Rucker says with a laugh. “When I play it, people lose their minds, just as they did the other night at the Opry. When we got to that song, everybody stood up and started dancing. How many times does that happen at the Opry?”

As he celebrates his latest career milestones, Rucker remains both humble and grateful. He says all he wanted when he first came to Nashville was the chance to make his own county album.

“It was a labor of love, and I would have done it even if I hadn’t got a record deal. I came here because I wanted to make the music. And I can’t thank you guys enough for the life you’ve given me.”

Rucker is currently hard at work on a new album set for release early next year. He has a new single out called “Ol Church Hymn” featuring Chapel Hart.

Odds are pretty strong he’ll be adding to that list of No 1’s.

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.