This season of American Idol Rewind features recaps from season three and season four of American Idol. Fans can reminisce about their favorite contestants and memorable Idol moments each week on Fox.
Season four runner up, Bo Bice, recently took some time to chat with me about his own Idol memories as well as what he has been up to since finishing in second place on the popular television show.
You’re promoting the new season of American Idol Rewind. How much of that are you a part of?
I sat in and did some interview stuff. I wouldn't say I'm promoting it. Trust me, they don't need little Bo Bice's help promoting. All those Idol folks are doing alright. I'm excited. When they asked me to be part of Idol Rewind, it was really cool. So I jumped at the chance. I spent a little bit of time downtown hanging out with them for a few hours.
How much is American Idol still a part of your life?
Well, I have my American Idol fans that come to my shows every day. So it's still very much a part of my life. It's a very loyal fan base, the Idol folks. I think some of them are just fans of my music, some of the southern rock music that I play. And so yeah, Idol's a big part of it still. I go back and see them every year, and just pop my head in the door and say 'Hello.' They're like family to me.
You were a working musician before Idol, what made you decide to audition?
It was a bet between my mom and I. She had asked me the year before to try out for the show. And at the time I was a working musician, had been for many years. I checked into it and I was too old. The age limit was 25. Then the following year, I was watching the news and they said they had upped the age limit to 28. And just out of heckling my mom, I called and said, 'They upped the age limit to 28.' [She said] 'Oh you gotta go, you gotta go.' Long story short, I went down - she went down with me - and the rest is history.
With your southern rock style, did you feel really comfortable with the show? Was it different than you expected?
It was a lot different than I expected. Because it was a very pop-oriented show, I didn't expect to go far. I didn't expect anything. Being a pessimist, I was trying to be as optimistic as ever. And you know, all that was blown out of the water when America stepped in and voted me second.
What are your favorite performances or memories from when you were on?
My favorite memory of a performance on the show is when I got to perform with Lynyrd Skynyrd. That was a childhood dream come true. I was just in Jacksonville, and got to hang out with Johnny [Van Zant]. He came to hang out on the tour bus with us, at the Jaguars' stadium. We were doing the halftime show. If you told me five years ago that I'd be hanging out with Johnny Van Zant, in Jacksonville, before my halftime show performance, I would've laughed in your face. So that alone would be my favorite performance. That whole American Idol experience is really lumped together as - aside from my sons being born, and my wife and I experiencing that together - the greatest experience of my life.
How did you like doing the show's themes each week? Did you ever wish you could've just kept with your own style?
Obviously everybody would like to keep with their own thing and do what they want. But I think part of it was more stepping outside of the box and saying, 'Okay, this is part of what I signed up here to do. Now I gotta do these commercials, now I gotta dress up.'
Now, was I apprehensive? Yeah, of course! I mean, I'd never done commercials. And they're asking you to put on these dorky clothes - you don't know how it's going to come out. For all you know, you can look like a moron. They're telling you, 'It's going to look great when it's finished. And you're like, 'Oh okay, whatever.' [laughs] At the end of the day, Idol is like a boot camp for celebrity. It teaches you how to do interviews, and commercials, and studio work. Working camera angles, things like that - that's something that you have to learn. And there's some people that learn and grow with it and there's some people that go, just like you said, 'Oh I wish I could just do my own thing.' Well, your own thing didn't get you discovered. If it did, you wouldn't be on American Idol.
So that's how I looked at it. What I was doing apparently wasn't right. My image wasn't right. The only thing I was doing right was working hard. I had a lot of dedication for what I loved to do. Idol really helped me to hone my craft. It was very good for people like me who'd been doing it a long time and really needed a break. That's all I ever thought I was going get out of Idol. I was going to go to the audition, they were going to tell me I was all wrong for the show, but ‘call this guy.’ That's what the business is about.
I auditioned every day for gigs. Playing bars, playing at events, playing at fairs, festivals, whatever - they're all auditions. Sometimes you get told 'no,' and sometimes 'no' is not bad. Sometimes people telling you 'no' is the best thing. A lot of people might think of it as rejection. I've been turned down by people that could have taken my talent and capitalized off of it, and then when it came time for Idol I would've been in a contract and been stuck. I’ve came across a lot of people who said, 'You're not ready, you're partying too much. Don't do the drugs and the alcohol.' Like I was when I was younger. All those times hearing 'no' ended up to that big 'yes' that I got from American Idol.
What advice do you have for this year's Idol hopefuls?
A lot of people might go on Idol and think, 'Oh I got turned down.' Use that as a stepping stone. Use that to build yourself up for the next thing you that want to conquer. Don't ever take no for an answer in this business. And if you do, you're in the wrong business. Doesn't mean you can't have feelings, but don't let your feelings get hurt. There's a lot of people out there that love ol' Bo Bice. But there's about one in fifty that really don't like him too.
I ain't going to spend my nights sleepless worrying about the people that don't want me to succeed. I'm going to go out and try to be the best at what I can do, be the best dad I can be, and accomplish the most that I can. And help as many people along the way, instead of bringing them down. And then it don't matter what they say about you, as long as they're talking.
When you were recording your first post-Idol album, was it really rushed for you? How was that recording process?
It was rushed. But so was the rest of the year that I spent before. To have made it that far, you've lived in a year's worth of rushed. You should be quite immune to rushed. It's fast-paced - it's a lot of interviews, a lot of recording, a lot of trying to do shows. There’s all kinds of stuff going on in your life right after the show. It took me two years and I probably would've taken longer if I had not put the brakes on with my health issues.
I finally said, 'No I won't go back to work until I'm healthy.' And then things went south, and I lost my record deal. Which I don't fault Clive [Davis] and them for that. It's the way it is. I was not a healthy person. I was a mess for a year through Idol, through the stress, and I played through the pain. I got through the tour and the first surgery, but the first surgery took a toll on me. The second and third surgeries put me down for the count. So it was really being told twice, 'Son, if you don't stop you're going to die.' Then, three different operations, it made a lot of sense in my head that I wanted to be here for my kids.
So it's a fast-paced life, it really is. I love it. I'm glad to be where I am today. And I’m doing my own record label, I have my own studio, but most of all I have my family right here with me and they keep me grounded. I still move at a fast pace - if you ask my wife, she would tell you I'm a workaholic. I think that just comes with the job. We love what we do so much that we don't get tired until we're already worn out.
Are you doing okay health-wise now?
Yeah, you know what's crazy is that I had a year and a half of a clean bill of health. I've never been this healthy in probably over a decade. I started getting sick when I was about 15 or 16 with this issue that I have, and it's just progressed my whole life until I had the surgeries to correct it. It's weird being healthy now, and having to watch what I eat, manage stress, and not drink liquor - which changed my lifestyle. All the things that came along with the surgeries really have been helpful for me.
The past six months I've really tried to just let things go, because you're not going to change them. You can work to make things a little different, but you're not going to change an outcome with your stress. You can exasperate problems with your stress. You get all stressed and your stomach is knotted up, and you work yourself into a tizzy. My grandaddy used to say, 'At least you've got your health.' You take that statement for granted, man, you really do. So now I’m glad to be healthy and just love to have those fans that were all praying for me. What’s next for you?
I'm excited to get back out this next year. We've got a new live CD that's coming out. We're going to have it out March or April. It also has four new studio tracks on it. We're going to have a blast supporting it next year. We've been writing and getting a new studio album ready. So we're also going to have a new studio album out, probably by the end of next year.
You recently toured as part of a Beatles-themed show – “It Was Forty Years Ago Today”?
Yeah, Denny Laine, Christopher Cross, Todd Rundgren, Lou Graham, and myself. It was really awesome. We had an incredible time. Just getting to hang out with those guys for months was intense. I got to be really good friends with Christopher Cross and Lou Graham. I've seen Lou a few times afterwards. And Denny Laine, I mean, come on - Wings, Paul McCartney, the Moody Blues. It was just a really great experience.
I called it the "Legends and the Longhair Tour." I thought, 'What am I doing here with all these legends?' But it was really great. Christopher Cross took me under his wing when we out there. The whole tour was fun.
What did you do during the show, did you have specific songs you performed?
Yeah, we did a couple songs off of my album. Everybody did a couple tunes from their own albums. Then we took a break, and the encore was Sgt. Pepper's front to back, with a couple of extras thrown in there, like "Revolution," and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." I played guitar and sang lead on some songs and back-up on other songs.
One more Idol question. What did you think about allowing contestants to play instruments during performances?
I think it's cool because they change it up. We had asked for our season if we could play instruments, and at the time they said no. I guess I would still prefer it to be the way it was for us. Because there were several of the folks [last season] that I felt really hid behind their instruments and used them as props.
David Cook - he did a great job. He used it when it was time, he knew when to put it down and walk around and do his thing. I'm not saying everyone but David, I'm just saying there were a few that used the piano a bit much. I want to see you get out there moving. I want to see you entertain, I don't just want to see what you can do on piano.
It can be a curse and a blessing. It could've been my worst enemy just because, it might've been like, 'Okay, let me show 'em I can play this on guitar, let me show 'em I can play this on piano.' Really it's like they told me, 'This isn't a talent contest, it's a vocal competition.' I think when you open that door to being a talent contest, it changes the spectrum of the show. Which can be good. But it also adds another element for you to mess something up. You're doing two things now - playing guitar and singing. Sometimes it can work against you unless you're really well rehearsed in what you do.
Thank you very much and have a very merry Christmas.
Well, thank you for your time, and you have a merry Christmas. And if you want to, go to Bo Bice.com you can download my new Christmas song for free, it's called "Very Merry Christmas".