Before I get to the interview, I glanced through the auditions and I think we’ve seen about 21 of the top 36, assuming JoesPlaceBlog got it right again (and I think Votefortheworst.com should get some credit, too.) That seems to be pretty typical on a percentage basis for “Idol.” Of the other 15, I hope we see them all or most in some way shape or form during the Hollywood rounds starting next Tuesday.
And “Idol” ratings Thursday night were better than I expected. I figured the numbers would be at least 20 percent below Wednesday but they only dropped about 10 percent to 24.2 million. That’s impressive considering this is not a normal “Idol” night. In past years, Hollywood tends to see numbers fall a bit. Maybe that will reverse itself this time around if the “drama” is as much as they are promising.
Above: Bo Bice in Iraq last year.
Anyway, it’s been awhile since I’ve talked with former Atlantan and season four runner up Bo Bice. I last saw him in the fall of 2007 when “See the Light” was coming out and he was performing at his mom’s hometown of Cumming in north Georgia. Now he’s promoting “American Idol Rewind” (season four), which is on TV Guide Channel Sunday evening and locally on MyAtlanta on Saturday evenings at 6 p.m.
“We had a wonderful 2008,” he said in January. “I accomplished a lot. I had a real good tour. I welcomed a new son. Aiden is getting to the point, I’ll be able to take him on the road this year. He’s getting big!”
Bice is also healthy: “To have two years coming up with a clean bill of health is a true blessing,” he said. “I got sick twice in the past year for food issues, food poisoning. My stomach is delicate. I don’t drink hard liquor anymore. I used to love me some tequila and whiskey. Whiskey made me act like a jerk. Tequila made me think I was funny!” He now nips a bit with beer and wine. “Everything in moderation!”
He said the tour bus is not exactly bacchanalia. “Most of us are married with kids. We’re kind of boring. But when we step on stage, we kick your butt!”
Last year, he did about 150 shows, halftime shows, anthems for NASCAR events. Some ended up on a live CD you can get at www.bobice.com.
Bice visited Kuwait and Afghanistan early last year. In October, he visited Iraq for ten days. “I got to shake th e hands of those who fight for our freedom,” he said. “We flew in Black Hawk helicopters. I got to play foosball in the rec room and sing karaoke after my show. That was really cool.” Soldiers still know him more as that “Idol” dude than the guy who did “See the Light.” But he said he’s always proud of being an alum. “It gave me the career I’ve always wanted,” he said.
He said his wife Caroline is doing well. “We live out in the sticks of Nashville,” he said. Before going back on tour, he was at home remodeling his kitchen the day he spoke to me January 13. His brother John who lives in Atlanta was visiting and helping. I asked him if he’s a cook. He said he loves making Italian food. (He prides himself on a great chicken marsala.) He also gets into country fried steak and creamed potatoes. Mmmm….
Watching season four over again for the show, he said he got to see how unhealthy he looked and recalls how badly he felt. “At that point, I thought my career was over and nobody was going to care about Bo Bice,” he said. The experience “was all a blur when we were living it.”
He has no resentments toward Carrie Underwood selling 11 million albums. “Idol changes lives,” he said. “It’s a dream come true.”
He plans to do more touring in 2009 and work on a new studio album for 2010.
Naturally, he loved David Cook. “I’m extremely proud he took it home for all us rock-and-roll cats. He’s a great singer. He’s an even better guy. He’s a straight up dude!”