File Darius Rucker and KISS' Gene Simmons under "unexpected friendships." In fact, the bassist / singer of the rock band has a special nickname for his friend, and it's not "Hootie."

  • Rucker details the impact KISS had on his life in his new memoir, Life's Too Short.
  • The pair were managed by the same manager (Doc McGhee) for nearly 20 years.
  • He talked to Evan Paul for Taste of Country Nights.

Related: Darius Rucker Gets Brutally Honest About His Late Brother Ricky

Rucker opened up about his love for KISS, saying he listened to all their records growing up. "I was a KISS head," he exclaims.

Later, he'd meet the band for the first time and slowly develop a friendship.

"Gene never calls me Darius," he begins.

"He always calls me Old Man River. And he sings it (singing), 'Old man river,'" he adds with a laugh.

The obvious follow-up questions is, "Why?"

"Because he says I'm a crooner. (Impersonating Simmons gravelly voice) 'You're a crooner man. You're a crooner!'" Rucker answers with another laugh.

When the pair first met, Rucker was front man for Hootie & the Blowfish. It's easy to see how his band could have crossed paths with KISS at awards shows or similar industry events. The now-country singer's vocal style is unique — we won't go as far as to say he's crooning, but he's definitely telling his stories of love and heartbreak with a precise gusto uncommon in a format famous for dropping its "g's" (comin', lovin', drinkin' etc ...).

Other, less surprising influences on Rucker and his music include Dwight Yoakam, New Grass Revival, Nancy Griffith and Lyle Lovett. He details his KISS love in a chapter called "Detroit Rock City."

Billy Dukes is a Senior Editor and Executive Producer of Video Content at Taste of Country. He specializes in country music interviews, trend analysis and the Secret History of Country Music. Additionally, Billy covers Yellowstone, 1923 and related television shows through the Dutton Rules podcast. To date, he's written more than 13,000 articles for Taste of Country and produced over 3,000 videos for the Taste of Country YouTube channel.

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