From 'Bawitdaba' to 'Let's Go Brandon': Kid Rock's history of hits and political controversy

·7 min read

Kid Rock is here to own the libs and make some music.

Unfortunately for his fans, the musician born Robert James Ritchie has announced that he could be through with performing live after his upcoming tour.

But tweaking Democrats? That might be a harder act for Kid Rock to retire.

In a video posted this week to Facebook, Kid Rock, 51, said his upcoming Bad Reputation tour could be his last.

"I want to be at my peak for this tour because I really don’t know for the unforeseen future if we’ll do a big tour again," he said, vowing in a second video that he won't play any venues with vaccine mandates.

On Monday, he released "We the People," a fiery political anthem littered with criticisms of today’s sociopolitical climate. In the song, Kid Rock voices his disdain for President Joe Biden; Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser; mainstream media outlets such as CNN and TMZ; social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Rock, who has questioned the motives of other artists who express political beliefs, has himself made a career of courting right-wing politicians, causes and voters.

Here's a look at some of his greatest hits.

Kid Rock performed in a flag poncho during his Super Bowl XXXVIII set in 2004.
Kid Rock performed in a flag poncho during his Super Bowl XXXVIII set in 2004.

February 2004: Kid Rock wears a cut-up American flag as a poncho during a disastrous Super Bowl halftime show

You’d be forgiven if you forgot that Kid Rock was even part of the Super Bowl XXXVIII show that lives in infamy for Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's wardrobe malfunction. Kid Rock's patriotic gesture was condemned by the Veterans of Foreign Wars as flag defacement.

SUPER BOWL SHOW: The five most disastrous Super Bowl halftime shows, from Nipplegate to 'Indiana Jones'

October 2012: Kid Rock endorses Mitt Romney for president

Kid Rock said he isn't one of those celebrities who's into "preaching" about politics, but in 2012, he shed some light about his disappointment in President Barack Obama.

"I am very proud to say that we had elected our first Black president. ... I'm sorry he didn't do a better job. I really wish he would have," the singer said.

The musician, whose song "Born Free" was used as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign anthem, introduced GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan at a rally in Rochester, Michigan.

Kid Rock went on to say "the facts are the facts and we just saw them come to light in the last debate with no outside BS, no bias media involved, no interruptions and negative politics ads every five seconds," CNN reported.

2012 PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Kid Rock 'sorry Obama didn't do a better job'

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shakes hands with Kid Rock during a campaign event in Michigan in 2012.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shakes hands with Kid Rock during a campaign event in Michigan in 2012.

July 2015: Kid Rock retires his Confederate flag

In May 2011, Kid Rock stepped up to accept a Great Expectations Award from Detroit's NAACP, describing himself as humbled and overwhelmed by the moment. That was the night he quietly decided he would stop using the Confederate flag onstage.

"It's been more than five years since he's had that flag on tour," publicist Nick Stern told the Detroit Free press in 2015, amid protests about Kid Rock's association with the controversial symbol. "They're protesting something he's not even doing."

CONFEDERATE FLAG CONTROVERSY: Kid Rock says Confederate flag was dropped years before protest

September 2016: Kid Rock slams Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the national anthem

Against the backdrop of a huge American flag and red, white and blue lights, Kid Rock performed his song "Born Free" at a Fenway Park concert in Boston as the 2016 NFL season approached. About a minute in, he climbed down to a lower level, knelt in front of the crowd, and stopped singing while he bowed his head for a few measures.

He then looked out at the crowd and yelled “(Expletive) Colin Kaepernick,” referencing the NFL player's decision to protest police brutality and the treatment of minorities by declining to stand for the national anthem.

Kid Rock's vulgar statement was met with cheers and whistles.

COLIN KAPERNICK: Kid Rock slams Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during anthem

December 2016: Kid Rock celebrates President-elect Donald Trump's win

Weeks after a series of digitally altered photos went viral, Kid Rock decided to capitalize on the phenomenon by unveiling a line of pro- (and profane) Donald Trump merchandise.

Fans had circulated Photoshopped pictures of Kid Rock, an avowed Trump supporter, bearing T-shirt slogans applauding the president-elect and his successful campaign.

That led the Detroit rocker to roll out his own line of similarly themed merchandise due to "overwhelming demand," including a shirt reading "GOD GUNS & TRUMP" and another declaring America's vast swath of red states to be the genuine "United States of America."

DONALD TRUMP ENDORSEMENT: Kid Rock rolls out line of pro-Trump merchandise

November 2018: Kid Rock booted from Christmas parade after attacking Joy Behar of 'The View' on 'Fox & Friends'

Kid Rock's Nashville honky tonk had just opened when "Fox & Friends" decided to do a live hit from the bar, just ahead of his turn as grand marshal of Nashville's Christmas parade. But after some unprompted choice words about "The View" co-host Joy Behar, he found himself out of the grand marshal gig.

He singled Behar out during his plea for people to "calm down and get a little less politically correct," telling host Steve Doocy, "I would say, 'Love everybody' ... except I'd say, 'Screw that Joy Behar (expletive).' "

After Doocy quickly apologized and reprimanded the rocker on-air for using the b-word, Kid Rock corrected himself, saying "I mean lady." Noting that he was joking, he added, "Let's have different ideas, but try to move forward and be more together. At the end of the day, we're all Americans."

When Doocy asked him if he was apologizing for the language he used towards Behar, Kid Rock said, "I apologize for the language, not the sentiment."

ROCK VS. JOY BEHAR: Kid Rock booted from Nashville Christmas Parade after Joy Behar insult

August 2019: Kid Rock goes after Taylor Swift for her politics

And then he came for the Swifties.

Twitter users tore into Kid Rock for his comments about Taylor Swift, after he tweeted a crude message questioning Swift's motivations for getting political.

"Taylor Swift wants to be a democrat because she wants to be in movies …. period," he tweeted "And it looks like she will suck the door knob off Hollyweird to get there. Oldest move in the book. Good luck girl."

The tweet sparked reactions from celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, who quote tweeted Rock's words with her own message.

"you’re pathetic. - Chrissy Teigen," she wrote, mimicking Rock's tweet signoff.

ROCK V. SWIFTIES: Chrissy Teigen, Patricia Arquette and more celebs tear into Kid Rock over 'gross' Taylor Swift tweet

September 2020: Kid Rock campaigns for Trump at a mostly maskless Michigan rally

On a night that felt as much like a late-summer concert as a political event, Kid Rock joined Donald Trump Jr. and other supporters of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally east of Detroit.

The rock-rapper, one of the most prominent Trump boosters in the celebrity ranks, performed just after sunset for a crowd of several thousand along the Clinton River in Harrison Township, Michigan. Most in attendance were maskless, with face coverings predominantly worn by older attendees.

The grounds teemed with American flags, MAGA memorabilia, classic-rock songs and “U-S-A” chants. At least one attendee hoisted the Confederate stars-and-bars, emblazoned “REDNECK.”

KID ROCK, POLITICIAN: Kid Rock performs at Trump rally in Michigan, announces 'one last monster tour' coming

January 2022: Kid Rock releases his anti-Biden, anti-Fauci song, 'We the People'

Kid Rock is using his music as a political soapbox in a new song released Monday.

"Wear your mask, take your pills, now a whole generation's mentally ill," Kid Rock sings in the anthem, referencing public health mandates during the pandemic.

The Grammy-nominated singer also references border security in the lyrics, slamming the media for "embracing" Biden's approach to "shut our borders down," whereas when "Big Don does it, they call him racist," alluding to Trump.

"We the People" features numerous chants of the political slogan "Let’s Go Brandon," which has been used as a code among conservative Republicans to express a more vulgar sentiment toward Biden.

ROCK VS. BIDEN: Kid Rock releases political track 'We the People' slamming Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kid Rock's biggest controversies, from flag flaps to 'We the People'