American Idol runner-up Bo Bice is an inspiration to us all. He’s been playing his own fusion of Southern rock/soul/Gospel long after the television cameras turned away. Since his national debut in 2005, Bice has been involved in all sorts of interesting projects, including touring with the Beatles’ tribute tour, “It Was 40 Years Ago Today,” performing on the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, and he is a certified NASCAR driver. Bice has been strong in his support of the troops, as well: he just hosted the 5th Annual Armed Forces Poker Run that benefits the Readiness & Family Support Organization, he comes from a military family and he tours to war zones regularly. While he is not at liberty to say when his next military performance is, for safety of the troops, it’s safe to say that he will be playing soon. For more info, check out www.bobice.com.
MM: What are your latest projects?
BB: I put out See the Light last October and I have been touring to support that this year. It’s available at www.bobice.com and www.walmart.com. I’ve been on the road all summer. I started out in Afghanistan and Kuwait. I was also playing with Brothers of the Southland, along with Jimmy Hall, Dan Toler and Gritz (Steve) Grisham. I also have a new album coming out that will just be available on www.bobice.com ; I’m comfortable with the new technology. The music industry is changing and I’m doing podcasts and ringtones, everything.
MM: How did you get involved with the 40 Years Ago Today tour?
BB: They reached out to me – it was an education, out of my comfort zone. I am so grateful for these opportunities that came out of (American) Idol. I won’t run from Idol or talk bad about it. What you saw on Idol was me – I wasn’t out to win it or be the most popular. I didn’t invent rock and roll.
MM: You just had a child and there’s been talk that you aren’t touring or that you’re slowing down. Is that true?
BB: First of all, that’s a total fabrication. The only time I’ll stop touring is in a pine box around the US on my farewell tour! I’m not like some of these other stars, who have five farewell tours. I will just have one, when I’m done! I love what I do. I would like to have Caleb and Aidan join me on tours in the summer when they’re older. Especially in the times we live in now… the years between 8 and 14 are so important. I would like to be able to do some producing that would keep me home – I have a recording label and studio in my house.
MM: How did you get involved in performing for the troops?
BB: I come from a military family: my dad was a Marine, my little brother is a Marine, and my grandfathers were in the Army and Air Force. I grew up overseas for 5 ½ years and went to London Central High School. I have military friends, too.
I was asked by Stars for Stripes to perform. And of course, I wanted to play for the kids over there and some of them are just kids.
MM: Are there special logistics when you play for the troops?
BB: I’ve played everywhere from the big bases to the FOB’s – Forward Operating Bases. I did an acoustic show last time. It’s the opposite of what I do every day, I’m not in a million dollar tour bus there. I only bring what we’re allowed to carry. It differs for each show and I can only talk about certain things. When I was in Afghanistan, it was 13 below and I slept in my duck hunting clothes. We ate every meal with the troops and you really get to know people then. You go over there to gain an understanding.
I’ve been to Walter Reed and their spirits are so high, people 19, 20, 21 years old, who’ve lost limbs and taken shrapnel. Whenever I think I’m having a bad day, I remember them. I’m (also) a racecar driver and when I went with a NASCAR even to Walter Reed, one boy lost both of his limbs. We had seen new technology with artificial limbs and talked to him about that. But he said that he had lost his legs too far up. There was nothing we could say! He said, “It’s okay, don’t be sad for me. I’m still alive!” To see that courage, to fight and have no shred of animosity… he had just wanted legs to be able go back over there! I will go back every single time I’m asked, until all our men and women can come back home.
MM: Do you make your own money?
BB: I do to an extent. My wife does a lot of the day-to-day bills. I have a great business manager.
MM: Do you have investments?
BB: I have three houses. I just got rid of my lake house. We sold the house in Helena and moved up to Nashville. My goal is to have a lake house again in Helena or Tuscaloosa.
MM: What did you do with your first big paycheck?
MM: I got a 1975 Fender Stratocaster, which was one month older than me.