In the early 2000s, Kid Rock was on top of the world. It seemed that everything he touched turned to gold and his no-nonsense attitude garnered him quite the following. But while the Detroit-native wants you to think he came from the projects, he actually grew up in a nearly 6,000 square foot home in the suburbs. So, what else don’t we know about the rocker? Who is the real Kid Rock?
From getting involved with the wrong crowd and raising a son as a single dad to his widely publicized marriage to Pam Anderson and his feud with Tommy Lee (along with nearly all of Hollywood), Kid Rock sure has lived one wild, crazy life.
Not So Humble Beginnings
Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, was born in Romeo, Michigan, in 1971. Bobby, as his parents call him, was the third of four kids. His parents, Susan and William, began dating while studying at Michigan State University. They met right before William graduated (top of his business class, no less).
Susan, who was a cheerleader and a freshman at the time, fell head over heels for William and dropped out of school to be with him. Luckily, it ended up working out for the couple. William went on to own multiple car dealerships around Michigan, which paid for his 5,628-square-foot home on a six-acre estate.
An Entertaining Family
William and Susan liked to have fun and regularly hosted barn parties every Friday night. “Just crack open a keg and hear Bob Seger jamming all night,” Kid Rock recalled to Rolling Stone magazine. Those evenings were fun—unless his parents had too much to drink, which was often the case.
When that happened, they would ask Bobby to put on a performance for their friends, which usually consisted of the future singer jumping around and lip-syncing to Bob Seger’s Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man or Jim Croce’s Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. While Rock jokes that he hated doing those performances, they did spark his interest in music. He tried to learn guitar (which didn’t turn out too well), so he turned to drums and turntables.
“Hey! Look at Me!”
There were other, sadder moments that also inspired Rock. One day, he and his older brother Billy were clowning around on the back of their father’s tractor when Billy fell. The seven-year-old hurt his leg so badly that it had to be amputated. Not only was it hard for Rock to witness this, but it made growing up in that household that much harder.
The singer confessed, “He was always the center of attention, so I’m sure I was always trying to: ‘Hey! Look at me!’” Shortly after the incident, Rock’s dad put him to work planting trees on the property and mowing their massive front lawn. If Rock wanted to spend money, his father made him pick apples at the nearby orchard for 35 cents a bushel.
Greatest Pleasures in Life
Rock still resents his father’s tightfisted attitude towards money. In fact, the singer says nothing gives him more satisfaction than to wind his father up with stories of outrageous purchases—including the massive Civil War cannon that sits at the entrance to his Clarkston home.
“I told my dad that the guy wanted $70,000 for it, but he was such a cool mother******, I gave him seventy-five,” Rock laughed as he recalled the purchase to Rolling Stone. That kind of spending makes his father “screw into the ceiling.” Besides the occasional taunting, things are good between Rock and his parents. However, it wasn’t always this way. The singer was around 14 when he was first thrown out of his parents’ house.
Moving On Down
With nowhere else to go, Rock went to stay in the Mount Clemens projects with a friend, his wife, and kid. For three weeks, the then-14-year-old didn’t tell his parents where he was. “I think they were pretty freaked that I had moved into the ghetto,” he shared with Rolling Stone magazine.
When Rock wasn’t working at the local car wash or DJ-ing, he was living life. “F***ing walked around drinking forties, man, eating pork rinds, hanging out at the barbershop, riding the bus to Detroit to get records, hanging out with the guys selling drugs on the street.”
Making His Own Money
As the school year began, Rock went back to his parents’ home—only to run away again the next summer. That’s when he started dealing. “It was great for the money,” the musician recalled. “Do you know how many records you can buy with $200 at $3.99 a twelve-inch, three for ten bucks sometimes?”
Even though he was dealing drugs, Rock said that he never tried what he sold. “It was f***ing a sin to touch that s**t. You touch that s**t in the hood when you were selling, someone would beat your f***ing a**, because crack was bad,” Rock explained.
Not Completely Cut Off
Rock says that his parents didn’t understand him. The singer wanted to be “where the action was,” not picking apples in his father’s orchard or mowing his family’s lawn. The musician wanted to make his own money to buy his own records so he could “spin [them] at the basement party that weekend.”
But despite the drama between him and his family, Rock didn’t completely cut ties with his parents while he was living in the projects. In fact, his mother remembers picking him up from the projects to drive him to an orthodontist appointment across town.
Kid Rock Is Born
When Rock got to high school, he put together a break-dance crew called the Furious Funkers. They would perform at local parties and weddings, which caught the eye of the local Burger King, which decided to sponsor them.
“They’d move the salad bar out of the way,” Rock recalled to Rolling Stone, “and we’d get down.” The musician could do most of the moves; “head spins, windmills, knee skins, the worm, the wave, poppin’, lockin’, the funkateer,” although he had trouble with the “1990” move where you spin on one hand. It was then that the musician earned his famous moniker, Kid Rock.
Detroit Music Scene
After barely graduating high school, Rock moved to the projects in Detroit, where he lived for the next ten years. Although his name was unknown outside of the city, and the Vanilla Ice-inspired revolt against white guys in rap was in full effect, Rock was able to move up the ranks in the Detroit music scene.
He won DJ battles and rap contests, which upped his profile. Rock was busy making his dreams come true. His father, however, wanted him to take over the family business—but Rock turned down the offer.
His Own Way
“I knew that making it on my own terms, and having my dad be proud of me, would be the ultimate freedom,” the musician continued. After being picked up and then dropped by Jive Records, Kid Rock signed with Continuum in 1992. Professionally, everything was going great for the singer.
However, his personal life was in shambles. In the song Black Chick, White Guy, the singer tells the story of a tumultuous relationship. “Her momma was . . . more like a friend/ Had three different kids from three different men.”
In the song, he talks about this couple who began dating in high school. But when they graduated, the girlfriend moved to the city to be with her dealer boyfriend (but was still seeing her high school sweetheart on the side).
When her boyfriend was thrown in jail, she hooked back up with her ex, and they raised their son together. She had another two kids, only for this guy to realize that they weren’t his. “Three different kids from three different men/ History repeats itself again.” So, he takes his only biological son to raise him on his own.
Robert Ritchie Jr.
Kid Rock says that the song is pretty much all true. “Obviously, you have to rhyme words, but about ninety-nine percent,” the singer said in 2000. However, his baby mama, Kelley South Russel, denies this story and has sued both Rolling Stone magazine and Kid Rock for recounting it in 1999.
For years, it was a delicate subject. When their son, Robert Ritchie Jr., was just a few months old, Russel dropped him off at Rock’s home, and the musician has taken care of him ever since. In the early 2000s, Russel wanted her son back and tried everything in her power to get him.
Vicious Custody Battle
For ten months, Rock was involved in a vicious custody battle. “Nobody’s going to take this f***ing kid from me. I got all my documents from everyone involved, neighbors to teachers, everything,” the musician told Rolling Stone magazine in 2000.
“It’s just ridiculous to think – the opportunities and the love that he’s had, and the home life he enjoys and the environment he’s in and schools he goes to, it’s just ridiculous to challenge it could be better anywhere.” Luckily for the musician, he won the custody battle in October 2000.
Launched Into Stardom
While radio stations were reluctant to play Kid Rock’s music, MTV did. The video for Bawitdaba became an immediate hit in ’99. The musician still remembers picking his son up from school and turning on TRL, where the song was getting played alongside The Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears.
“We’d see the video and be like, ‘We’re getting a new f***ing house! We’re getting a new car!’” he recalled to Rolling Stone. His fourth album, Devil Without a Cause, went on to sell over 15 million copies. Before he knew it, Kid Rock was performing his songs at MTV’s Spring Break while models paraded around him.
“He Knew I Was Wild”
Rock says that he could have made a lot more money during his Bawitdaba days. But his commitment to his son at home meant that he only toured on the weekends. “I’d be driving the field trip Monday after I banged, like, four [girls],” he recalled in 2015.
Sadly, his son was aware of what his father was up to in his spare time. “He knew I was wild. I didn’t hide any of that,” Rock said of his son. “But it was kind of our dirty little secret together. He saw girls come in and out, which probably wasn’t the healthiest thing.”
Runs in the Family
Rock says that the only reason he can talk about this now is because his son is now a father of his own. But despite all his partying on the weekends, the musician remains adamant that he was a good father.
“Hey, I was wild. But I showed up to work on Monday to be a father,” Rock told reporters in 2015. As for his son, Junior, he graduated from Belmont University and is pursuing a career in music. But even though Junior is following in his father’s footsteps, Rock has no intention of giving him any money.
Just Call Him Grandpa Rock
“You know how your friends are telling you I’m f***ing rich? I f**ing am. You’re not,” Rock says he told his son right before his granddaughter was born. “And if I wrote you a check, it’d be doing a disservice to you. I’m rooting for you, but I need to stand by the sidelines and watch it go down.”
Junior’s longtime girlfriend gave birth to Skye Noelle in May 2015, making Kid Rock a proud grandpa at the ripe age of 43. The musician tries his best to keep his family life out of the spotlight, so not much is known about his family. However, it wasn’t always like this.
Meeting Pamela Anderson
For those who remember (I mean, it’s pretty hard to forget), Kid Rock was once linked to Baywatch bombshell Pamela Anderson. The two met in New York during a VH1 Divas Live tribute to the great Aretha Franklin. It was right around Easter, so the following day, Anderson sent Rock a bunch of Easter eggs and other presents.
At the time, Anderson was the woman of his dreams. “It felt like I was doing exactly what I should have been doing, following the rock & roll handbook,” the musician shared. So, he did what any guy would do and invited the Playboy model to his home in Michigan.
A Normal Couple?
Anderson, of course, followed Rock up on his offer and arrived in Detroit a few days later. The tabloids had a frenzy, especially because the couple had quite the partying streak. But according to the musician, he and his ex-wife also made time for their families.
“No one will ever see us hanging out with the kids and barbecuing all day,” Rock told reporters from Spin magazine. “You only get what’s flashy. It’s understandable.” Within a year, the couple was engaged—but problems began to pile up. Anderson didn’t want to move to Michigan, nor did she want to sign a prenup.
Let’s Get Married
Unable to find common ground, the couple called off their engagement in 2003. The two completely lost contact with each other for nearly three years. Then, in 2006, a mutual friend invited both Rock and Anderson aboard his yacht off the coast of France.
“I jumped on a helicopter and bussed through the French Alps. I get on the boat, and who was there? Pam,” the musician recalled in 2007. The two rekindled their twisted love affair, and a week later, they decided to get hitched. But not everyone was on board with the union.
A Family Feud
Rock’s older sister and mother did not want the musician to marry Anderson. But they knew that nothing they said or did would change Rock’s mind—he was infatuated with the Baywatch babe, and no one could change his mind. Even still, his mother, Susan, decided to get a jab in when she could.
Aware of Anderson’s intense support for PETA, Susan arrived at the wedding ceremony in a full-length fur coat. But just a few weeks into their marriage, all their past troubles came back in full force. Pretty soon, Anderson and Rock found themselves in couple’s therapy.
On top of it all, Junior hated living in Malibu. Rock had just bought a multi-million-dollar mansion to be closer to Anderson and her two sons from her marriage with her ex, Tommy Lee. However, Junior missed his life back home in Michigan.
“I was like, ‘Hey, how was school?’” Rock says of Junior’s first day at Malibu High School. “And he’s like, ‘It stinks, it stinks, I hate it! All these kids do here is ride skateboards and do drugs.’” By late fall, just four months after tying the knot, Rock and Anderson’s relationship was on the skids.
Borat Did What?
There are several reasons why the couple broke up, including Anderson partying a day after she claimed to have lost the couple’s baby (Rock claims she lied about being pregnant). But according to actor Sacha Baron Cohen, the final blow to the couple’s four-month marriage was none other than the 2006 comedy Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
Yeah, you read that right. For those who don’t remember, Borat was about a man so obsessed with the Baywatch star that he moved to America to marry her. Well, according to Cohen, Rock was NOT a fan of Anderson’s performance in the film.
Four Month Fail
In fact, the rocker flipped out when he first saw a screening at the home of Universal chairman Ron Meyer. Cohen says that he texted Anderson after the screening to ask what Rock thought about the film, to which she replied, “He’s getting divorced.”
When Cohen asked why Anderson said that it was because of the film. “And I thought it was a joke, but then a few weeks later they got divorced, and they put as a reason for divorce, Borat,” Cohen told The Daily Beast in 2019. But the drama didn’t stop there.
When Egos Collide
It seems that being the ex-husband of someone like Pamela Anderson became too much for both Kid Rock and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee. The two’s long-anticipated confrontation finally happened at the 2007 MTV Music Video Awards.
Rock came back from the bathroom only to find his nemesis sitting at his table. “I was like, ‘That’s it!’” the musician said in 2015. “He knows how much he has disrespected me through the years, and I’d told him he had it coming. I was left with no choice.” So, Rock walked right up to Lee and punched him in the face.
Lee’s Horrendous Emails
“It was a full swing,” the rocker said. “I don’t got big guns, but I know how to throw a punch.” Rock and Lee’s drama goes way back, but the final straw came in December 2006, right after Anderson and Rock’s divorce.
Apparently, Lee hijacked the actress’s phone and began sending nasty messages. “She’ll always be with me, nobody wants you,” Rock says Lee wrote. “It was not easy. It was a very hurtful time in my life because I was in love with her. I wanted to roll on him right then, but I didn’t see him until the MTV Awards.”
Back in the Spotlight
With all the MTV cameras around, the punch was not caught on tape. However, the ego-driven scuffle catapulted Rock back into the spotlight. Everyone, even the late Larry King, wanted a piece of Rock.
“If I knew how much press this was gonna’ get,” Rock told King, “I would’ve come back with a left.” But even with all the publicity, Rock says that it “kills him” to have his name be associated with someone like Tommy Lee. “It honestly destroys me.” As for the Mötley Crüe drummer, he has his own take about what happened.
A Bad Career Move
“Here I am minding my own biz [when] I get a tap on the shoulder from Kid Pebble,” Lee recounted on his website. Lee then stands up to embrace him when Rock, out of nowhere, punches him in the face. “Well, if ya’ wanna call it that… [it was] more like a b*tch slap.”
Rock later admitted that his relationship with Anderson was a “bad career move” because his life was turned into a circus. After the divorce, there was no chance for the two to remain friends. In fact, Anderson and Rock haven’t spoken since they broke up in 2006.
All for the Fans
In 2015, Rock made headlines again when he hit the road for his summer tour around America. He helped fans “save their beer money” by keeping prices down to only $20 a ticket. “I’m the Jimmy Buffett with hair who swears,” he told Rolling Stone in 2015.
By now, Rock knows who his audience is (“45-50-year-old girls wearing extra-large T-shirts, they’re my bread and butter”), and he does not want to rip them off. He refuses to play in Europe or at mainstream festivals in the U.S., and his fans love it when he attacks mainstream pop in the middle of a set.
Kid Rock’s Take on Hollywood
In fact, the musician is “flabbergasted” by how people worship Beyoncé. “How can you be that big without at least one Sweet Home Alabama or Old Time Rock & Roll?” the musician asks. Rock could have had a country career, especially after his 2001 hit, Picture, with Sheryl Crow.
But even though he is routinely asked to co-write songs with Nashville songwriters, Rock turns them down every time. Why? He isn’t interested in sucking up to label executives. “In country, those award shows make your career,” he continues. But even still, the rocker wants another hit, something he hasn’t had since his 2010 song, Born Free.
Cleaning Up His Image
His last few albums weren’t exactly hits, which took some getting used to. Before his 2012 album, Rebel Soul, (which flopped), he had never not gone platinum. Despite his declining success, Rock knows that he can still sell out stadiums.
He is more interested in nurturing his personal life outside of the limelight. Lately, Rock has been getting into golf and was accepted into professional golfer Jack Nicklaus’ private club near Palm Beach. “If you told me five years ago, I’d have to take my hat off and tuck my shirt in, I’d have slapped the taste out of your mouth,” Rock laughs.
Living in a Doublewide
Although the rocker is a mega superstar, he does not have an average rock star’s lifestyle. In fact, in 2017, Rock swapped his $9.5 million Malibu mansion for a doublewide trailer in Nashville. Yes, you read that right.
The singer, who has a net worth of around $80 million, prefers to live out his life in a trailer. Rock wouldn’t have it any other way. “You go to these houses, and I go, ‘Where do you start in this thing?’” the singer tells reporters. “Like, ‘How many times do you use the movie theater?’ I’ve built one. I maybe went in there once.”
The Nashville Skyline
His favorite part about living in a trailer? If it burns down, he can have another one delivered within two weeks. “Simplicity at its finest,” Rock admits. So how did Kid Rock find himself living in a doublewide? Well, it all happened by accident.
He was driving around Nashville one day, and his car wouldn’t make it up a hilly country road. So, he decided to hike it on foot, and that’s when he fell in love with the Nashville skyline. But don’t think for a second that the musician is roughing it.
Living the Dream
Rock is willing to give up all his possessions, except for his jet. In fact, just beyond his strip of land and his doublewide is an airstrip big enough for his private plane. There’s no security, and Rock and his buddies can “Just drive a pickup truck onto the tarmac, leave your keys in the car, get on the plane.”
The musician still owns his Detroit mansion, but according to Zillow, the 6-bedroom, 6-bathroom home is back on the market for a whopping $2.2 million. He also still owns a home on Torch Lake in Northern Michigan.
Happily Ever After
Slowly but surely, Rock is distancing himself from Hollywood—and that includes his personal life. After his widely publicized marriage and divorce from Pam Anderson, Rock vowed to never date anyone from Hollywood again.
While he was briefly linked to American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler, My Name Is Earl actress Jaime Pressly, and Victoria’s Secret model May Andersen, Kid Rock found his happily ever after with Michigan-native Audrey Berry. The two first met in 2007, while Rock was back in his home state, recovering after a pretty brutal divorce.
The Simple Life
Unlike his high-profile romances, the singer has deliberately kept the details surrounding his relationship under wraps. “This is somebody who is not a celebrity. It can really be a tough thing to deal with,” Rock told Piers Morgan in 2011.
“I’m thinking of somebody else, trying not to be so selfish.” In 2017, fans spotted a ring on THAT finger, and a few weeks later, Rock admitted the two were engaged. “Life is so much simpler being with one girl,” he told GQ. It is unclear if the two have tied the knot, but we think Kid Rock wants it this way.