Kid Rock has been embroiled in many controversies over the last two decades for his use of the Confederate flag, his ultra-conservative political stances, and his tirades against prominent female singers, from Beyoncé to Taylor Swift.
Most recently, during Pride Month, the 50-year-old artist was caught using a homophobic slur onstage and later defended himself by using the same slur again in a combative response to the controversy.
Below, Billboard compiled a timeline of Kid Rock’s controversies over the years.
February 2004: Wearing the American Flag
In an effort to display his patriotism, Rock cut a hole in an American flag and wore it as a poncho during his Super Bowl halftime show appearance, before throwing it into the crowd. The act was considered flag defacement and led the Veterans of Foreign Wars to file a lawsuit against CBS.
February 2006: A Sex Tape Is Leaked
Two videotapes were allegedly stolen from a safe at former Creed frontman Scott Stapp‘s house and then released online depicting Stapp and Rock in a sexual encounter with four women on a tour bus during a Florida tour stop back in 1999. The two musicians successfully filed restraining orders against the company World Wide Red Light District for selling downloads of the video.
September 2007: Fights Tommy Lee at the MTV VMAs
Both Rock and Tommy Lee had previously married the same woman, Pamela Anderson, and they locked fists at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, where security eventually escorted both rockers out of the venue. Rock later said that his relationship with the Mötley Crüe drummer had been strained “for five years.” He was cited for misdemeanor battery but not taken into custody.
May 2011: Defends Use of Confederate Flag
Rock was slammed for his notorious use of the Confederate flag onstage and accused of racism by protesters, which he defended was an act of homage to his idols Lynyrd Skynyrd. “I’ve never flown that flag with any hate in my heart. Not one ounce,” Rock said after receiving an award from the NAACP’s Detroit chapter for his work in the community. “I love America. I love Detroit, and I love Black people.”
January 2015: Kills a Cougar
Animal rights activists lashed out against the artist after he posed for a photo with a cougar he’d presumably killed. He had gone hunting with fellow Michigan native and firearm enthusiast Ted Nugent, who shared a picture of their prey. “HAIL my MotorCity boy KidRock for saving all those muledeer elk & livestock by whacking this magnificent mountain lion. I can hear the braindead squawkers already with their obscene denial that killing lions is wrong. Its legal its necessary its good its beneficial its a da– riot!” Nugent wrote.
January 2015: Flips Out on Seth Rogen & Michael Moore Over American Sniper Comments
Following country singers Blake Shelton and Craig Morgan‘s critiques of Seth Rogen and Michael Moore’s comments concerning the film American Sniper, Rock got down with the trash talk. The gun enthusiast seemingly took offense to Moore’s criticisms of snipers and Rogen’s comparison of American Sniper to the Nazi propaganda film playing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds, as he posted a firm F-you to the two on his website. “F— you Michael Moore, you’re a piece of sh– and your uncle would be ashamed of you. Seth Rogen, your uncle probably molested you. I hope both of you catch a fist to the face soon,” Rock wrote.
February 2015: Disses Beyoncé on Rolling Stone Cover
He told Rolling Stone in his cover story that he was “flabbergasted” by the BeyHive and their obsession with Beyoncé before describing his type. “Beyoncé, to me, doesn’t have a f—ing ‘Purple Rain,’ but she’s the biggest thing on Earth. How can you be that big without at least one ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ or ‘Old Time Rock & Roll’?” he said. “People are like, ‘Beyoncé’s hot. Got a nice f—ing a–.’ I’m like, ‘Cool, I like skinny white chicks with big tits.’ Doesn’t really f—ing do much for me.”
September 2016: Blasts Colin Kaepernick for Kneeling During National Anthem
The rocker paused midway through his performance of “Born Free” during his Boston concert in September 2016 to voice his thoughts on former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem at NFL games as a way to protest police brutality against Black Americans. “F— Colin Kaepernick,” he yelled.
December 2016: Sells Pro-Trump T-Shirts
Rock expanded his merch line in support of former President Donald Trump, including a tee labeling blue states from the 2016 presidential election as part of “Dumbf—istan,” while the remaining red states represented “The United States of America.” The other designs read “God Guns & Trump” and “_onald Trump: The ‘D’ Is Missing Because It’s In Every Hater’s Mouth.”
July 2017: Says He’s Running for Senate
Rock said he was running for the U.S. Senate before saying it was just a gag inspired by a Michigan state legislator’s suggestion that he run for the Republican nomination for one of the state’s open seats in 2018.
“It might be one of the dumber things I’ve ever done, but it was a f—in’ riot,” Rock told Billboard in November 2017, a month after he revealed to Howard Stern that his bid for office was just a promotional stunt for his 11th studio album Sweet Southern Sugar. “Man, some of the sh– that went on was unbelievable. It started to become real, which got a little scary; I mean I just don’t understand who looks at Kid Rock and goes, ‘Yeah, I see a senator there.'”
The Federal Election Commission sided with Rock, saying the phony run was clearly “an artistic and commercial undertaking” tied to the album’s release and affiliated tour and that he was never a legitimate candidate. The FEC also cleared Rock’s label, Warner Bros., of violating campaign finance law by helping to sell “Kid Rock for US Senate” merch.
September 2017: Goes on Explicit Political Diatribe During Michigan Show
Rock used his Grand Rapids arena concert in September 2017 to prep for a planned six-show run to open the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit and to address his haters in a faux campaign speech behind a podium that bore a logo similar to the presidential seal, but which had his name at the bottom below an eagle holding a rifle in one claw. Upon coming out to the strains of “Hail to the Chief,” he ranted, “Think you have to remind me that Black Lives Matter? Nazis, f—ing bigots and now the KKK? I say screw all of you a–holes, stay the f— away.”
Peter Hammer, director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Detroit’s Wayne State University, called the choice to have Rock open the $860 million, 20,000-seat arena in the predominantly Black city “incredibly tone deaf.”
National Action Network’s Detroit chapter requested to cancel Kid Rock’s concerts in the city following the group’s public criticism of Rock’s consistent display of the Confederate flags at his shows. “This is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said the Rev. Charles Williams II, president of the network’s Detroit chapter. “When you hire Kid Rock, who is known to be dog-whistling and cat-calling to white supremacist organizations and the white supremacist community, alt-right, whatever you want to call them, and you take our tax dollars to do that? That’s wrong.”
October 2017: Utters Transphobic Comments During Fish Fry
He kicked off his third annual Fish Fry by rapping about his beliefs, including about gay and transgender rights, in a speech. “Why these days is everything so da– gay?” he said. “I mean, gay rights this, transgender that. I say to hell with it, let ’em get married if they want, because we got way bigger problems to worry about than all that. But things shouldn’t be this complicated; and, no, you don’t get to choose, because whatever you have between your legs should determine the bathroom that you use. Pretty simple.”
January 2018: Changes Tour Name Following Lawsuit
Rock was ready to embark on the “Greatest Show on Earth” arena tour in 2018, but didn’t have permission to do so under that name. Feld Entertainment, longtime owners of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus that coined its famous tagline, sued both Kid Rock and Live Nation in federal court in Florida. He eventually renamed his trek the The American Rock N Roll Tour.
November 2018: Gets Kicked Out of Christmas Parade
The rocker was booted from the Nashville Christmas parade lineup for making profane remarks on live television about then-View host Joy Behar during an appearance on Fox & Friends. “I would say, love everybody … except screw that Joy Behar bi—,” he said. Rock went on to apologize for the language, but “not the sentiment.”
August 2019: Blasts Taylor Swift Over Her Politics
Swift broke her political silence in fall 2018 when she endorsed Democratic candidates in her native Tennessee during the midterm elections, and a year later, Rock mocked her political activism when she addressed it in her August 2019 Vogue cover. “Taylor Swift wants to be a Democrat because she wants to be in movies….period. And it looks like she will suck the door knob off Hollyweird to get there. Oldest move in the book. Good luck girl,” he tweeted.
November 2019: Goes on Explicit Tirade About Oprah Winfrey
Rock was removed from the stage of the Honky Tonky bar in Nashville following his explicit tirade against Oprah Winfrey, saying she could “suck a di– sideways.” The singer went on to acknowledge that many would find his sentiment racist, but he told them to “f— off.”
September 2020: Attends Donald Trump Jr.’s Rally in Michigan During COVID-19
Rock joined Trump’s son for a campaign event in his native Michigan shortly before the 2020 presidential election. Trump events that had taken place days before were described as potential “superspreader” events during a time when the U.S. had just surpassed 6.5 million cases of COVID-19 and was approaching 200,000 deaths to date.
March 2020: Refuses to Close Bar During COVID-19
His Big A– Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse was in the national news for being one of the last bars to comply with Nashville’s orders and close its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Rippy’s Honky Tonk, Honky Tonk Central and the Diner, all venues owned by Steve Smith, initially called the mayor’s request “unconstitutional.”
May 2021: Hosts Morgan Wallen‘s First Performance Since He Was Caught Using the N-Word
Rock made headlines when his Nashville bar hosted Wallen for his first performance since being caught on camera saying the N-word back in February. The surprise performance seemed to contradict what Wallen said in an April 13-dated statement about not hitting the stage this summer following his own controversial video.
June 2021: Uses Homophobic Slur Onstage
In a video published June 7 by TMZ, Rock was caught using a homophobic slur onstage while calling out crowd members filming him at FishLipz Bar & Grill in Smithville, Tennessee, “You f—ing f—–s with your iPhones out!” He also sings in the video, “You can post this di– right here,” while grabbing his crotch and looking right at the camera.
June 2021: Repeats Use of Homophobic Slur
In his first statement since a video surfaced of him saying a homophobic slur onstage, during Pride Month no less, Rock used the same slur again in a combative message on social media. “If Kid Rock using the word f—-t offends you, good chance you are one,” a message on his Twitter and Facebook read on June 9. “Either way, I know he has a lot of love for his gay friends and I will have a talk with him. Have a nice day.”