Kid Rock has found his Rock N Roll Revival Tour to be aptly named.
The road trip, which kicked off in January in support of the Clarkston-based musician's 2007 album "Rock N Roll Jesus," came on the heels of a tempestuous second half of 2006, during which Rock married Pamela Anderson four times and subsequently divorced, had a fist fight with Anderson's ex-husband, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, at the MTV Music Video Awards, was arrested after a brawl at a Waffle House in Atlanta in October and faced assault charges back home.
After all that, Rock was in need of his own revival.
"I just really looked at everything and got back to what I really love -- music," says the Romeo-raised Rock, 37, whose real name is Bob Ritchie.
He's done it well. "Rock N Roll Jesus" became his first-ever No. 1 album, debuting at the top of the Billboard 200 chart after its October release and this week shot back to No. 5. It was certified platinum in May for sales of more than a million copies. His latest single, "All Summer Long," is his biggest since 2002's "Picture," hitting No. 1 in Austria, Germany and Switzerland and Top 10 in other territories, and it's been climbing the Billboard Hot 100 chart even though Rock does not license his music to iTunes.
The Revival tour -- which features guests such as Run-DMC's Rev. Run, the J. Geils Band's Peter Wolf, former Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts and, for the upcoming DTE Energy Music Theatre stand, Rock pal Uncle Kracker playing with Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker Band -- has been getting rave reviews. It also ranked No. 30 on PollStar magazine's list of the top tours for the first half of 2008, grossing $11.2 million in ticket sales.
"This is one of those crazy ideas that, when it came together, we said, 'Wow, it works!,' " Rock notes. "There's something bigger than all of us that's going on on the stage. I don't think this idea can ever stop. The names and faces can change. They could get bigger, but it's a great way to go out and play music on the road."
Having a hit, of course, certainly makes for a bigger, and sweeter, experience. Rock says "All Summer Long" -- which mashes together Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London," Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" (with Skynyrd's Billy Payne playing piano) and a sentimental lyric reminiscent of many a Bob Seger song -- was one of the later songs written for "Rock N Roll Jesus," built from an idea brought in by Detroit-based producer Mike Clark.
"We were almost done with the record, and (Clark) said 'Listen to this crazy (thing) I made,' " Rock recalls. "It was 'Werewolves of London' over a beat. I started laughing at first. I said, 'That's so...corny it's funny.'
"And then I started humming along to it and realized it's 'Sweet Home Alabama!' It's the same song. And I'm a DJ; that's where I started, so I'm totally into the whole idea of mash-ups. So I was like, 'I'm gonna make the ultimate mash-up...' and we came up with" "All Summer Long."
Rock acknowledges he could have an even bigger hit on his hands if "All Summer Long" was available on iTunes. But for now he's resisting, partly because of financial terms but also because he's still trying to find a way to make best use of the Internet for his purposes.
"It's a little like the Wild West out there, with MySpace and FaceBook and all of that stuff," says Rock, whose own web site is active and fan-oriented. "When that first came out I was like, 'I don't want any part of it,' 'cause the only things I saw was, like, people looking for girls, y'know?
"I understand now it's marketing tool, but right now you need to search...8,000 pages or something for new music. There's needs to be something better than that, I think."
Rock won't be sitting around waiting for that, though. The Rock N Roll Revival Tour has dates into late September, including a nine-date Rock And Rebels segment with Lynyrd Skynyrd in August. Rock and Twisted Brown Trucker recently cut a new song, "Warrior," for the National Guard, and he's recorded guest appearances on upcoming albums by rappers Lil Jon and Trick Trick.
And Rock and Rev. Run are working on "Running With the Kid," a joint project whose title plays on B.B. King and Eric Clapton's Grammy Award-winning collaboration "Riding With the King."
"It's just a concept now; we've only got a few tracks we're messing with," Rock says. "I just want to make a fun, old school hip-hop record, with the music I like and grew up on.
"I'm not into a lot of the rap music nowadays at all. Hip-hop was like my blues music, and like what happened with blues music...a lot of people forgot about the old guys until bands like the (Rolling) Stones started taking out Muddy Waters and really paying homage to them. I feel like that's my thing with old school hip-hop, so that's why I really gotta do ths album."
Kid Rock & the Twisted Brown Trucker Band, with special guests Rev. Run and Uncle Kracker, perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (July 19), Sunday (July 20), Tuesday (July 22) and July 25 at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $55 pavilion, $29 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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