THE NEW OUTLAWS
Waylon Jennings had his black leather, and Willie Nelson his pigtails. Country’s newest outlaws—John Rich, 32 (right), and “Big” Kenny Alphin, 42—rode in on a Horse of a Different Color, with sequined dinner jackets, feathered top hats, a pronounced taste for the surreal and an emcee dubbed Two Foot Fred, a dancing dwarf partial to orange marabou. But their wild stage shows and rock- and hip-hop-infused beats have upended traditional notions of what makes country music. Fans love ’em, purists hate ’em, and the guys? They’re just trying to get along.
“Kenny and I both made a lot of music before Big & Rich, and Nashville said, ‘It’s good, but we don’t know how to market that.'”
“Ultimately you have to believe in yourself. I don’t call our music rebellious. I call it honest. We want to be the greatest show on earth. The shock factor is a little bit of entertainment. If we can figure a way to shoot Two Foot Fred 200 feet in the air, well, by God, it’s entertainment.”
“There is nothing that we would never do. Our goals are to change country music, be cutting-edge artists and have a good time. And I want to take Missy Elliott as my date to the CMA Awards. Be sure you put that in.”