Darius Rucker (Photo: Chris McKay)Darius Rucker is no doubt one happy country superstar this week, as he received the surprise of a lifetime Tuesday evening. After playing a few songs on the Grand Ole Opry stage, he was asked if he'd like to join the exclusive club himself.
Rucker, who was extended the invite by Brad Paisley, at first thought the notorious jokester was about to pull one over on him. Paisley stood up during a question-and-answer session with the audience, and first asked Rucker if he was still a lousy poker player. Following that, he asked him if he'd like to join the Opry. (Rucker answered in the affirmative to both.)
"When Brad stood up, I thought, 'Does he owe me one?' That really was my first thought--'Did I get him last,' because he's the prankster of all pranksters," explained Rucker. "I thought here comes something that's gonna be very, very funny. I was just hoping it wasn't slime or anything, and I didn't think it was gonna be 'You wanna join the Grand Ole Opry?'"
Rucker also noted that the invite came as a complete surprise--even his wife was able to successfully keep the secret under wraps. He will be inducted on October 16 this year.
"I'm like the third cousin that everybody kind of thinks is a member of the family," Rucker said of the honor. "Now, I'm actually now the first cousin who's like a brother to the oldest brother."
Oh c'mon now, Darius--no need for the humility. As we all know, the former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman hasn't done too badly in his country career at all, to say the least. He has five No. 1 singles to date, is currently finishing up work on his third album for Capitol Nashville, and is the first African American artist in history to win the New Artist of the Year award from the Country Music Association. He is the third African American ever to join the Opry (following DeFord Bailey and Charley Pride), and the first to join in nearly 20 years--Pride became a member in 1993. Congratulations, Darius!