Meet Big & Rich: The Men Behind The MuzikMafia
What does it take for one to become big
AND rich?! Well, if you're either Big Kenny or John Rich, you try your hand in the music business and when things
fall through, you try again... and again... and again!! For both members of the ultra-successful duo, "making it" has been
a long time coming. Before meeting up in 1998, Big Kenny had tried his hand as a solo recording artist, but his project didn’t
go anywhere. John Rich enjoyed early success with Lonestar before the group went from quintet to quartet. Then, John reentered
the country music scene as a solo artist – but despite fans who enjoyed his album, he was released from his record deal.
forward a few years and one of John's friends encouraged him to check out Big Kenny. (John’s initial response was, "Big
what?! I don't think I want to see anybody named that!") He did go, though, and while at there, John was pelted with
one of numerous pieces of bubble gum, a welcome gift courtesy of Big Kenny. After a few songwriting appointments, the two
became friends and writing partners. They jammed at each other's shows, something that turned into what has been dubbed as
the MuzikMafia sessions. These sessions took place "on the worst night of the week in the weirdest place in town," John says,
"so that if anybody showed up, they'd be there because they wanted to hear music, not because they wanted to schmooze."
|Muzik Mafia members Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson
The MuzikMafia has since gained popularity and drew
fans like Gretchen Wilson and James Otto (both of whom have been signed to major record label deals). One of those fans was
the daughter of producer and Warner Brothers' chief creative officer Paul Worley. Daughter encouraged father to listen to
the duo. Big Kenny and John Rich walked into Paul's office thinking they were pitching songs to Martina (she DID record one
of their songs, "She's a Butterfly," for her current Martina CD). During the meeting, Paul had asked them about the
MuzikMafia and requested they play some of those songs. He liked what he heard so the duo walked out with their own
record deal on Warner Brothers.
Big & Rich enjoyed moderate success with "Wild West Show," but it was mega-smash "Save
a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" that really rocked the boat! In fact, the duo was handpicked by Tim McGraw to join him on his summer
tour. The duo released the much-anticipated Horse of a Different Color in May of 2004 and it was one of the ten highest
selling albums during that summer’s CMA Music Festival. Though having fun is important, the duo proved they could also
help pass the message about serious issues such as domestic violence, which they sang about in "Holy Water."
Rich have said they owe their success to the MuzikMafia, something they say is not strictly limited to "country" music. Big
Kenny says, "What we're doing now is American music. And the most American music format that I know of is country. That audience
understands us. People that listen to country music don't just listen to country music. The kids who are coming up listen
to Johnny Cash, then Kenny Chesney, then Ludacris or Outkast or Kid Rock. I mean, John's little brother wears a John Deere
hat and an Eminem t-shirt." That philosophy is no different when it comes to the type of songs that Big Kenny and John write
together. Big Kenny says, "We never went, 'Nah, this isn't a country song,' or 'This doesn't sound like something anybody
would cover. We've written bone country and psychedelic rock and everything in between. We just love music, and we like taking
all aspects of it and seeing what comes out." And that's where the phrase, "Music Without Prejudice" comes from. For Big &
Rich, music isn't a career, it's a lifestyle.
Big & Rich News:
REQUEST "Lost In This Moment" - at radios NOW!!!! The video for it has been released
to GAC, VH-1 Country, and CMT, so REQUEST it!!
Get ready, Big & Rich are gearing up to release a NEW album, to
drop into stores later this year!! It will feature their current single, "Lost In This Moment."
Big & Rich say
they endeavor to make honest music and expect honest opinions of their music from fans. Big Kenny says, "We want people to
just be honest, if you like something, say you like it, if you don't like something say you don't like it. One thing we've
learned about our fans, if they like our music, they like it in a big way, and the people that don't seem to feel just a strong
the other way."
The good news, adds John, is that more and more fans are beginning to accept their music. "They're coming
around. The more we tour and interview, the more we find that fans (and critics) understand what we're doing...it's more of
an understanding process, particularly with press and radio people."
Big Kenny says, "I've had calls of apology, letters
of apology. I had one interview where the interviewer said, 'Before we get started, there's something I've got to say. I've
got to be honest with you - before, I didn't give you guys a chance.' I thought that was so cool. I'd never heard anybody
Big Kenny and John Rich live up to their catch phrase "Love Everybody" in that even though they make their
living playing country music, they absolutely feel it's okay to be a fan of all types of music and believe many in Music City
feel as they do.
Kenny says, "Hey, John and I listen to everything to. We listen to all these elements of music, you know.
Our listening catalogues, our record catalogues, are deep. I mean from, you know, Sinatra, Billie Holiday, to you know, 60’s
rock-n-roll, soul, 70's rock-n-roll."
"Nine Inch Nails," adds John.
"Elvis," continues Kenny. "Yeah, Nine Inch Nails.
I mean, heck, Johnny Cash recorded a Nine Inch Nails song. Gimme a break! You know we just love music and it all came from
country music. And we're country boys. And, you know, you gotta put your foot in the door somewhere and we think this can
be the greatest, biggest, most awesome place in the world. What a great place for that kind of energy to start from, man.
Music City's so diverse and all the kinds of music that comes out of here. More so than any other town."
Did y'all know?!
** A while ago, John took up a new occupation
- full-time stalker!! His victim of choice? Superstar Faith Hill!! But, before you go and call the cops on him, here's the
scoop: Faith jokes that she was the victim of a "stalker" who wanted to write a tune based on her life. The "stalker" in question
was John, and the result was Faith's hit single "Mississippi Girl." Big & Rich had toured with Faith's husband Tim McGraw
last year, and Faith recalls, "John basically stalked me for two weeks because he had this preconceived notion about who I
was. He wanted people to hear the story of my life."
** Speaking of new occupations, John has another goal (aside from
his current domination in the country music business.) According to John, when he turns 50 in 2024, he wants to run for President.
"It sounds insane when you say it, but hey - the point is, if you really want to do something like that, you can do it. And
I would love to be in that position just to get up there and make a huge difference. It's the biggest thing you could do with
your life, I think." But first, he'd like to run for governor of South Dakota - where he and Big Kenny hang out writing songs.
Muzik That's BIG and RICH:
Check out Comin' to Your City, Big & Rich's followup
to their wildly successful debut album Horse of a Different Color. Also, Big & Rich have released an EXCLUSIVE
Super Galactic Fan Pak, which features five NEW music tracks, never-before-released photos, and MORE!! Pick up YOUR
copies of Big & Rich's music by clicking on each CD cover!
Catch up w/ Big & Rich at their official website: