A 1995 gig on CBS' The Late Show with David Letterman may have changed the future for Rucker and Hootie & the Blowfish, but the singer yearns for small club dates of yesteryear.


There's good reason we named Darius Rucker our Southerner of the Year for 2021. He's forged an incredibly successful path as both the frontman for Hootie & the Blowfish and as a solo artist. He's a devoted philanthropist. He embodies a Southern state of mind (so much so, he even has a song named "Southern State of Mind). Oh, and he thinks nothing beats a Sullivan's Island sunset.

But long before there were GRAMMYs and CMA awards, sold-out amphitheater tours, and chart-topping singles, there was just Rucker and his Hootie bandmates playing dingy dives and small club shows in the late '80s and early '90s. Those are the days for which he yearns.

"People always ask me if I miss when we were the biggest band in the world and I always say, 'No,'" Rucker said in a recent episode of Apple Music's "Essentials Radio" with host Kelleigh Bannen, per CMT.com. "I miss when it was us against the world. When we were playing those clubs and it was just five of us showing up and doing what we do. I miss those days," he confessed, adding that they managed to make a pretty good living at this, "so we weren't even really fretting about a record deal and anything." Summing up that irreplaceable feeling of living in a state of flow, he added: "But it was just us against the world. I mean, it sounds so cliché but that really was. All we knew was we had to be to the next town the next night."

Then, a September 1994 performance on CBS' The Late Show with David Letterman performing a song off of their 1994 album, Cracked Rear View, that changed everything: "We played 'Hold My Hand' the first time on Letterman, and our lives changed overnight. And that's not [an] exaggeration. Overnight," Rucker recalled. "Nobody was trying to add us. Some stations in the south were playing us because we were playing their towns in the clubs, but nobody was trying to play our record. And we went on David Letterman on Friday and on Monday everybody added it. I mean, it was crazy."

Hootie and the Blowfish The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Season 4
Credit: Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Indeed, they've come a long way from those dimly-lit club shows. While Rucker may have fame and fortune now, it's clear that the singer always stays grounded and humble, and savoring those SC sunsets.