While promoting his latest CD, Kid Rock vowed he was putting his days of made-for-the-tabloid antics behind him. The man from Michigan says he wants to be known for his music, not as a gossip-column item.
This weekend in Atlanta, Kid Rock managed to do both.
Saturday night, he rocked a sold-out Tabernacle at a show supporting “Rock N Roll Jesus,” currently the No. 1 album in the country and the first chart-topper of his 17-year career.
A few hours later, Kid Rock, who calls his genre-bending blend of country, rap and southern rock “hick-Hop,” was arrested after police said he and his entourage beat up a customer — at a local Waffle House.
Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, was charged with simple battery, as were five other men who were with him.
The 36-year-old rocker was released from DeKalb County Jail on Sunday afternoon after posting a $1,000 bond on the misdemeanor charge.
Police said Ritchie was finishing up a post-show meal at a Waffle House on Buford Highway about 5:15 a.m. Sunday when a customer recognized a woman in his entourage and began exchanging words with her.
Ritchie joined in the altercation, which soon escalated into a physical fight between the rocker and the man, Harlen DeJon Akins, 39.
Soon, five other men in his entourage — including the guitarist and the bass player in his band, Twisted Brown Trucker — jumped into the fray, and the fight spilled from inside the restaurant into the parking lot, said police spokeswoman Mekka Parish.
When the brawl ended, Ritchie and his group got into their tour bus and left the scene. An officer pulled the bus over at Buford Highway and Lenox Road, and all five men were booked into jail on the misdemeanor battery charge.
Along with Ritchie, police charged guitarist Jason E. Krause, 38, bassist Aaron Julison, 27, George P. Vourvoulias, 36; James W. Murphy, 34; and Brian O. Lang, 37.
Akins, the customer who suffered minor cuts and bruises in the fight, faces a more serious charge.
Police said that during the fight, he punched a window of the restaurant and broke it. Because the pane cost more than $500, Akins was charged with a felony criminal damage to property.
The staff at the 24-hour eatery at 2812 Buford Highway said Sunday evening that they weren’t permitted to talk about the fight that resulted in the boarded-up window, referring comments to the restaurant spokesman.
“He [Akins] destroyed the window,” said spokesman Pat Warner. “I really don’t know what the intent was behind it.”
Warner sidestepped questions about Kid Rock facing only a misdemeanor for beating a man, while his alleged victim was slapped with a felony for breaking an $800 window.
“We’re concerned about all our customers,” the spokesman said.
Ritchie’s publicist could not be reached for comment Sunday night.
It was the second weekend in a row that an artist who is signed to Atlantic Records has been arrested in metro Atlanta.
On Oct. 13, federal agents arrested rapper T.I. in a Midtown parking lot as he allegedly tried to illegally buy three machine guns and two silencers, hours before he was to receive two top awards at the BET Hip-Hop Awards.
Unlike T.I, whose rise to success is a bonafide rags-to-riches story, the myth that Ritchie cultivates about growing up in a double-wide trailer in Michigan belies the fact that his father successfully owned two car dealerships.
He shot to superstardom in 1998 with his fourth CD, “Devil Without a Cause,” where he adopted what he described as a “white-trash” persona and cashed in on the popularity of rap-metal, selling 12 million records.
Since then, his CDs have continued to do relatively well, but his overexposed personal life continued to steal the spotlight from his musical achievements.
His stint as husband No. 2 to actress Pamela Anderson last year — and the subsequent ugly breakup — grabbed headlines, as did the kerfuffle last month at the MTV Video Music Awards when he punched his ex’s ex, Tommy Lee.
With “Rock N Roll Jesus,” Ritchie said he was getting back on topic. The CD knocked Bruce Springsteen’s recorded-in-Atlanta “Magic” off the top spot, and sold 172,000 copies in its first week.
“The personal antics have overshadowed the music,” he told the Associated Press earlier this month. “I am hoping to bring it back to the music now.”
Today, he can start all over again.