Uncle Kracker in December 2012
June 6, 1974|
Mount Clemens, Michigan, U.S.
Matthew Shafer (born June 6, 1974), also known by his stage name Uncle Kracker, is an American singer-songwriter and musician known for his country and rock music. He was a turntablist for Kid Rock's backing group Twisted Brown Trucker and since 1999 has recorded as a solo artist. His singles "Follow Me" and "Drift Away" were top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.
Shafer was born in Mount Clemens, Michigan, on June 6, 1974. With his brother Mike Shafer, he visited a nightclub in Clawson, Michigan where a turntables competition was occurring. His older brother was competing against a then-unknown musician, Kid Rock. Shafer soon became friends with Kid Rock. In those times, he was mainly rapping. He went to L'Anse Creuse High School. In 1994, Kid Rock asked Shafer to play turntables for his band called Twisted Brown Trucker. Shafer knew nothing of using turntables, but since his brother was an experienced DJ, he agreed. He only performed at live shows at the time, until he began recording for Rock's album, Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp; Shafer was a featured vocalist on some of the tracks. He then began working on a solo album, but he continued being the DJ for Kid Rock. Upon the release of Rock's multi-platinum album, The History Of Rock, Shafer decided that it was time to release his first solo album, Double Wide in 2000.
Shafer was married to his childhood sweetheart, Melanie Haas. They divorced in 2014. They have three daughters together.
Double Wide was Uncle Kracker's first solo album. Released on June 30, 2000, it peaked at Number 7 on the Billboard 200 album chart and is Shafer's most successful and highest-selling album. "Double Wide" was produced by Kid Rock, with mixing additional production by Michael Bradford. The first single taken off the album was "Follow Me", which was co-written with Bradford, and peaked at Number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 2001. The album spent the next 10 months on the Billboard 200, and "Follow Me" also had a long chart run. His second single, "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah", failed to hit the Hot 100 chart. Double Wide was certified 2 Multi-Platinum on November 29, 2001.
After a great deal of touring to promote the first album, he began to work on a follow-up album. Entitled No Stranger to Shame, it was released on August 27, 2002. The album reached No. 43 on the Billboard albums chart. A hit single was released, a cover version of Dobie Gray's 1973 Top 5 hit, "Drift Away" - also including Gray as a guest vocalist. Kracker's version of this song peaked at No. 9 on the Hot 100 one week to the day after Gray's 63rd birthday, and it set a record for most weeks at No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, remaining atop this chart for 28 nonconsecutive weeks. Other singles released from No Stranger to Shame include "In A Little While", which peaked at No. 59 on the Hot 100 and No. 26 on the Adult Contemporary charts. A third single was released, "Memphis Soul Song", which charted on the Adult Top 40 at No. 35. A special remix of "Memphis Soul Song" was also released, featuring harmonies by legendary singing group The Jordanaires, who had famously sung harmonies with Elvis Presley. The album was certified gold by the RIAA within a year of its release. Soon after this period, Kracker became good friends with country music star Kenny Chesney and the two began a successful touring partnership together, brought on by the success of Kenny's hit single "When the Sun Goes Down", featuring Uncle Kracker both on the single, and prominently in the video.
After touring, Shafer began working on a third album which he called Seventy Two and Sunny. It was his first not to feature a parental advisory label as well as the first one to not feature any hip-hop songs, and moved onto a pure country sound. The album featured two singles: "Rescue", which only charted at No. 20 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary singles chart but did not chart on any other charts, and "Writing It Down," which did not chart at all. Shafer did have some success that year though when he was featured on Chesney's track, "When the Sun Goes Down", which peaked at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, and went on to achieve Gold status. Seventy Two and Sunny has sold about 200,000 copies. It peaked at No. 39 on the Billboard 200.
Uncle Kracker's fourth studio album is entitled Happy Hour. The album was in the works for five years and was delayed due to Atlantic Records' decision to bring in Rob Cavallo to produce the album right as they were finishing their cut of the album in late 2007. An early promo version of the album contained the tracks "Happy Hour", "Vegas Baby", "I'm Not Leaving", "The One That Got Away", and "That's What's Happenin". The first single from the album "Smile" was released on July 13, 2009 and has peaked at No. 31 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was released on September 15, 2009. "Smile" also became his first solo entry on the Hot Country Songs chart, where it debuted at No. 57 for the week of November 7, 2009, and peaked at No. 6 in September 2010. A music video for the track "My Girlfriend" was released in November 2009, though there has been no official word whether it will be serviced as the album's second single. The album also features country singer Jesse Lee (also on Atlantic Records) in a duet they wrote called "Me Again."
A six song EP, Happy Hour: The South River Road Sessions, was released on June 22, 2010. The EP features country remakes of songs off the Happy Hour album. The singles released were a remake of "Smile" and "Good to Be Me", featuring Kid Rock.
On November 16, 2012, Uncle Kracker released his fifth studio album, Midnight Special, produced by Keith Stegall. Sugar Hill Records and Vanguard Records released the album under parent company Welk Music Group. The album was a full-fledged country record. The first single to come off of the album was "Nobody's Sad on a Saturday Night", followed by "Blue Skies". Shafer performed songs from the album while on the road with Kid Rock for his $20 Best Night Ever Tour during 2013.