Uncle Kracker on 'Follow Me,' Kid Rock and Kenny Chesney

Rodney Ho, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Entertainment News

Uncle Kracker released a mostly rock-rap album in 2000, “Double Wide,” an effort to carve out a solo career after years as Kid Rock’s DJ. A single, “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” bombed. So his record label Lava/Atlantic decided to push out “Follow Me,” one of the only pop songs on the album.

“The song was originally really dark,” said Uncle Kracker to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently. “I changed the verses. We paid homage to Motown stuff.”

“Follow Me” became his breakthrough hit, ubiquitous on pop radio throughout 2001. “I remember playing it for Mark McGrath [of Sugar Ray] 25 years ago. Mark laughed and said that was a No. 1 song. He called it. [The record’s producer] Kid Rock didn’t want it on the album.” In fact, the song did hit No.1 on Billboard’s adult pop chart that year.

Uncle Kracker, 49, whose real name is Matthew Shafer, ended up at various awards shows, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Smash Mouth, Shaggy, Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson.

“Kid Rock is my best friend,” he said. “He had been running around for three years making fun of these guys. I show up with this song. I did feel a little weird, a little out of place. But once that song took off, there was no stopping it.”

Uncle Kracker started appearing on pop radio morning shows playing acoustic songs, but he had so few usable tunes, Kid Rock suggested he cover Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.” That became his second top 10 hit.


A few years later, he also landed a hit with “Smile,” a pleasant pop ditty that evokes “Follow Me.”

“I got lucky with that one,” he said. “I love good pop songs. I grew up listening to AM ‘70s stuff. I like a good jingle, something vibe-y, something to sing along to.”

Uncle Kracker’s trademark laid-back vibe meshed so well with that of Kenny Chesney, the country superstar reached out to him to record a duet. The result: a No. 1 country hit with the very chill “When the Sun Goes Down” in 2004.

“He was getting ready to play his first stadium show in Knoxville and he invited me,” Uncle Kracker said. Cheney told him, “I’ll send the jet.” “So I got on that jet. I believe I can hang out with y’all for a minute!”

They remain friends. Chesney, he noted, lives two minutes from Uncle Kracker in Nashville, Tennessee. “He’s still the greatest cat,” he said. “He loves everything except getting his picture taken.”

©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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