When I first predicted local boy Chris Daughtry was about to go GLOBAL, I only half believed it. Sure, the dude had blistering pipes, a brooding presence and a shaved head for the ages, but GLOBAL? Stark hyperbole. Now however, three short years after he met Shannon Smith and I for a pre-Idol interview, he seems to have done just that. This is not a news flash, I know - but every once in a while I have to rub my eyes and ask myself, “Did that really happen?”. Did a Honda dealership employee really sidestep the suck-fest that is American Idol, crank out a jillion selling debut CD and become a household name? The answer, my friend ain’t blowin’ in the wind. When Brad Pitt introduces you and your eponymous combo as the biggest rock and roll band of last year, you've come seriously close to having arrived.
I just wish I’d been more keen on the uptake. By the time Chris belted out a Joe Cocker tune in that Greensboro parking lot, I'd pointed my camera at hundreds of nutbags claiming to be the next American Idol. "Damn,"this dude can wail," I thought. "Wonder where he got those wraparound shades?" Had I known then that not only would he survive the Idol audition, but go on to becoem a Rock Star with a capitol R, I’d have hit him up for a job as his personal videographer. Instead, I covered his meteoric rise through the Idol sweat shop process and enjoyed our little chats. No doubt the guy had recordable pipes, but would a turbo-throat and simmering presence cut through the Idol schmaltz and secure him a place in the pop music pantheon? Apparently so. Twice now I’ve turned off my vacuum cleaner to see him take the number one spot on VH1’s Top Twenty Video Countdown. Make that happen enough and you've earned your place in pop culture. Not bad for a guy who used to keep track of other people's oil changes.
These days, Daughtry's CD is still selling well. It damn sure grew on me and I hate me some damn Nickelback. Regardless of what this photog think's, Chris's freshman platter ensures he’ll never have to write up another service order on a 1993 Accord with dirty ashtrays. He’ll be touring the world, when he’s not layin' low in his palatial home a scant dozen miles from my own humble abode. For all I know he watches my stories on the local news, when he's not trippin the glove with Bon Jovi. Me, I’m still shooting ribbon-cuttings, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I get a kick out of his career. No, I don’t want to BE him. I can’t carry a tune in a pre-approved container and I’d look pretty silly in one of those knit skull caps, but I’d damn sure like his Rolodex. As for Daughtry’s future, it’s still uncertain. His next CD will reportedly be harder-edged, something I’d probably like more than his largely female fan base. Whatever he puts out however, I’ll be listening, for it’s not everyday you help launch some cat into the stratosphere.
Not legally, anyway.