Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Kid Rock

Singer Kid Rock was born Robert James Ritchie in Romeo, Michigan, on January 17, 1971. The musician has made a successful career from his blend of hip hop, rock, rap, country and heavy metal, with a dose of controversy. While growing up, Ritchie was interested in rap music and started performing at talent shows and working as a DJ in and around Detroit. As a teenager, he was christened Kid Rock, after club goers told him and club owners that they liked to see “that white kid rock.”

He was inspired by the group, The Beastie Boys and how they melded hard guitar rock with rap. Kid Rock made his first recording in 1988 though it wasn’t until a decade later that he hit it big. Kid Rock’s first contract was with Jive Records and he produced his first album, Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast for that label in 1990. However, Jive Records dropped him when the FCC fined a college radio station for playing a suggestive version of one of the album’s songs.

For the next several years, Kid Rock bounced around the edges of the music industry and eventually he decided to form his own band, named Twisted Brown Trucker. Atlantic Records took a chance on Kid Rock, and his album Devil Without a Cause (1998) became a hit after a large promotional push. Two of his singles on that record, “Bawitdaba” and “Cowboy” were immensely popular and Kid Rock suddenly had an album that went platinum 11 times. Since then, he has released several more albums and singles, selling 27 million albums in the U.S. as of 2015.

Kid Rock’s reputation as both an artist and a celebrity continued to grow through the first part of the 21st century. His seventh album, Rock N Roll Jesus, was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 2009. In 2018 he released a greatest hits album Greatest Hits: You Never Saw Coming.

Several run-ins with the law, as well as a quick marriage and divorce to former Playboy Playmate Pamela Anderson, ensured that his media profile remained high. Not shy about expressing an opinion, his stance on gun rights and displaying the Confederate flag have earned him supporters and detractors. In 2019 a rant against Oprah Winfrey that resulted in protests outside his Made in Detroit restaurant in Little Caesar’s Arena, caused him to not renew the licensing agreement for the restaurant. 

An early relationship with girlfriend Kelley South Russell resulted in two children. One, Robert James Ritchie, Jr., was raised by Kid Rock as a single parent. In 2014 Kid Rock became a grandfather. His Kid Rock Foundation raises and donates money for “helping disadvantaged children, victims of war and natural disasters, and those suffering from illness.”



Photo of Kid Rock, 2007 - 2012.005.042

Poster for Kid Rock concerts at Joe Louis Arena, 2006 - 2012.050.015

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