Hootie & the Blowfish have been on hiatus for several years as lead singer Darius Rucker continues his successful country career, but the band does occasionally get together to perform — though not on TV. That changes Thursday night, though, when Hootie — with Darius — will appear on The Late Show with David Letterman. Why? Turns out they want to say goodbye to Letterman, the man who they credit for their incredible success in the ’90s.
According to Darius, Letterman was directly responsible for turning the first Hootie & Blowfish single, “Hold My Hand,” into a hit, by booking the group on his show. “It was the turning point of our careers,” he says, noting that initially, “Hold My Hand” wasn’t getting any significant airplay outside the South, until Letterman heard it by chance one day.
“One day in New York, David Letterman got off from work and was driving home and one of the DJs decided he was gonna play ‘Hold My Hand,’” Darius recalls. “Then, legend goes, Letterman heard the song and pulled over on the side of the road and called his bookers. It was a Tuesday and said, ‘I want this Hootie & the Blowfish band on my show as soon as we can.’ And we were on that Friday.”
After that exposure, Darius says, the band was off and running.
“That Friday morning, we were just another band trying to get on the radio, fighting grunge, having little success,” he says. “And after we played Letterman on Friday night, Monday morning we were on the way to being the biggest band in the world. It changed that overnight. It was crazy how quick it happened after that.”
But that Friday booking wasn’t the only support that Letterman gave the band: he continued to promote them in an unusual way.
“Every show for almost a year he said the name Hootie & the Blowfish,” laughs Darius. “Every show for almost a year. Every show. We’d watch it just to see how he was gonna say our name, but he said it every night. That was crazy!”
Letterman’s final Late Show is scheduled for Wednesday, May 20 on CBS. Meanwhile, Darius has hinted that Hootie may be recording some new music and doing an extensive tour sometime in the next couple of years.
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