Why the hell-raising rock star is obsessed with a low-key country songsmith.

By Leah Greenblatt
Updated November 28, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST

Kid Rock’s love for the good ol’ boys of music history (Waylon Jennings, the Allman Brothers Band, et al.) is well-known — after all, his 2008 smash, ”All Summer Long,” heavily samples Lynyrd Skynyrd’s rock monument ”Sweet Home Alabama.”

But what contemporary artist floats his Ski-Doo these days? A guy very much after his own heart, it turns out. Country singer-songwriter Zac Brown, a 30-year-old former chef from Dahlonega, Ga., is ”the best thing I’ve heard in ages,” says Kid Rock. Brown’s hit ”Chicken Fried” is a rollicking tribute to old-fashioned Southern comforts: cold beer, pecan pie, ”a pair of jeans that fit just right,” and, of course, deep-fried bird. ”I took my son on vacation, and we listened to his record [The Foundation] the whole weekend,” says Kid Rock. ”I don’t get to just be a fan very often these days, but I was blown away — the singing, the songwriting, the band, the playing, everything.”