Lenny Cooper’s story is an open book, a page-turner even Mark Twain couldn’t have made up. Just listen to any of the lyrics penned by the Original Mud Digger and you find that what you hear is what you get. He doesn’t mind telling you he loves the mud holes and hard-working country life, likes the “lovely ladies . . . driving big trucks with big tires.” He was “raised to look out for family” and is proud to be a “Simple Man” doing things “The Southern Way.”
And that doesn’t come close to summing him up. At 25, Lenny is a bestselling music artist, husband, and devoted family man. Though his story sounds like it unfolded magically, his lyrics hint that it hasn’t been as easy as all that. In “Old Back Road” he talks about wishing “all the bad away,” and in “Simple Man” he says life is “a lot of long curves” and “hard turns, so just hang on to the wheel so you don’t crash and burn.” In spite of what life may have dealt, Lenny’s got a laidback energy that only adds to his amazing story—one, he’ll tell you, that he would “never have believed in a million years.”
Lenny can spin a yarn with the best of them. His quiet soft drawl makes you bring your chair in close and hang on every word. That’s exactly what happened to YouTube viewers when he uploaded a little song called “Mud Digger.” We know y’all are still blasting this timeless tune from your rigs, and so probably will your kids. The video soared to the moon and back, going viral with over 2 million views before anyone knew what happened. Mr. Lenny Cooper releases, and the fans can’t eat him up fast enough. To date, all told, Lenny has over 11 million YouTube views and, as of this writing, 2.5 million Pandora plays in just the last 30 days. He has the respect of the fans as well as those in the music industry. The LACs recently tweeted about Lenny, “Everybody knows you can’t have a mud boggin’ video without the original Muddigger.”
Since Lenny joined the gang at Average Joes Entertainment two years ago, he has become one of their bestselling artists. His debut album, Diesel Fuel, came in hot as a tailpipe, at the top of the Billboard Country Album Chart. A year later Mud Dynasty dropped and was snatched up by hungry fans. August 2014 marked the release of Lenny’s third album, The Grind, a collaboration with all-stars Colt Ford, Bubba Sparxxx, Young Gunner from The Jawga Boys, Bucky Covington, Tyler Wood, and Sarah Ross, to name a few. Smooth cuts like “Lights On” and “54s” deliver what the fans have come to expect from the Original Mud Digger.
The country-rap genre is quickly becoming the respected newcomer, yet each artist paints it with his or her own brush. Lenny has a unique sound that draws fans in with a cruisin’ beat and lyrics that hit home. If you watched the video “Country Folks Anthem,” which he and Charlie Farley made, you know what it means to feel like you’re right there with them, poppin’ a cold one and takin’ a ride in the back of the pickup. Just like that Southern hospitality where there’s always room for one more, Lenny’s music scooches over in the seat and pulls you on up in for one heck of a good ride.
Lenny has been busy as all get-out: touring, writing, and getting ready to headline his own arena on the upcoming Monster X tour. After first making a trip to the zoo with his daughter (a good father has his priorities straight) he graciously made time to chat with Mud Life.
Mud Life: Some would say there’s nothing like a fully rewarding career with enough hours left in the day for some good quality family time. How do you fit it all in?
My schedule is really tight. It’s just that way. When I’m on the road I’m working, and when I’m at home I’m a family man. I give 100 percent of my time to my wife and my 2-year-old daughter when I’m home. We’re about to purchase a travel bus so they can go with me and we can see all the great places in this country and spend more time together.
Tell us how you got into mud boggin’ in the first place.
When I was 8 my dad got me a golf cart. He used to say, “Now be careful. You’re gonna get that thing stuck!” I was always getting it stuck in a mud hole and having to walk home. I was always coming home with skinned knees or something. I was real accident prone and still am.
That’s the life, isn’t it?
It is. Then after that I took to four-wheeling the local mud holes. Then my first truck was a Dodge. My mom bought it for me. I jacked it up, did all the work myself. Then something happened. The computer caught fire and burned up the truck and my mom said, “No more. I’m not getting you another one.”
She said once was enough! I’m sure you soon came up with something.
I was making some money, working construction, and I bought myself a 1987 Chevy longbed. It was an old farm truck, 4WD. I paid $1,800 for it and put about $2,500 to $3,000 into it. I put a lift kit on it. That was some play toy, nice jacked-up truck! Everyone knew my truck. I had a big sticker across the front window that said, “Hell, yeah!” Everyone knew that truck.
What did you do for fun?
Well, where I grew up, it’s all wooded areas, dirt roads. I love living life in the pine trees. There’s not a lot to do in our neck o’ the woods, so us kids would meet up at the Walmart parking lot and decide where we were gonna go muddin’ that night. We’d get in trouble because it was usually someone’s hunting land.
That’s where all the good mud holes are! So you live in South Carolina now, but you didn’t grow up there?
No, I was raised in Jacksville, North Carolina, actually Sneads Ferry. My dad was sick and wanted to move to South Carolina, where he’s from. So when I was 8 we moved to Pomaria/Newberry. He ended up passing away when I was 12. Then I went down to Florida with cousins for a while, to process it and all.
That must’ve been tough. Boys are inseparable from their dads at that age.
Yeah, It was hard. He had a massive heart attack and I was with him at the time. It really shook me up.
Oh Lord. Do you have brothers and sisters?
I have two older brothers. One is 44 and the other is 43. I’m really close with my brothers. One is a landscaper and the other is a house renovator. We’re all busy, but we make time for family time. The age difference never mattered. My one brother was 18 and the other was 19 when I came along, but it never kept us from being close.
So after your dad passed away you moved to Florida?
My mom moved us to Daytona for a year. We decided we liked South Carolina better and found ourselves missing it, so we moved back up to Pomaria/Newberry. I had been homeschooled before my dad died, but I told my mom I wanted to try public school. It just didn’t work out. I wasn’t cut out for it. So I didn’t finish school. I got into doing landscaping and then got a job in construction until I was about 18. That’s when I started doing my music.
So tell us the story about how your career in music all started.
Well, a couple of years ago I uploaded my song “Mud Digger” to YouTube. My mom thought I was just on the computer, or just making songs for my friends to listen to around there. She didn’t know—nobody knew—I had uploaded it. I made about five CDs for my friends and basically forgot all about it. About six months later I was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with some friends and people were driving around playing my song. I said to my friends, “I wonder how they got a hold of it. We’re gonna have to go check this out.”
That’s when you found out it had gone viral on YouTube?
Yeah, I would never in a million years believe that something like that would happen.
A lot of musicians move to Nashville, the country music hub. You don’t plan on moving the family?
I love where I live. I’m in Nashville every few weeks, and on the road, but I couldn’t leave the woods and the trees and life here. It just wouldn’t be right. My daughter loves to ride the lawnmower with me. If we couldn’t do that, she’d be real mad.
Sounds like she’s angling for her own golf cart! Is Daddy going to let his little girl loose with a “big truck with big tires?” And what does Mom have to say about it?
Yes, I plan to buy us a project truck in the future where me and her can build it together, and my wife has no problem with it. She is up for whatever makes her baby girl happy, and that’s what makes her an awesome mother and wife.
Lucky little girl. Don’t we all wish we had parents like that. So what happened after the YouTube explosion?
About six months later Colt Ford was doing some shows and people kept saying, “I hope he’s gonna play ‘Mud Digger.’” People were asking for the song and Colt said, “I don’t do that one. It’s not my song.” Then Colt said, “We have to look into this. Supposedly this guy lives in this area.” So I went up to him and said, “I am the guy that lives in this area.”
Security brought me backstage. I thought, “What?! Is this a joke?” I didn’t know if it was real or what. Colt said, “We’re gonna have to do something with this.” So the second week in January I had a meeting with Shannon Houchins at Average Joes Entertainment to maybe get something in the works. We recut “Mud Digger,” put it on iTunes, blasted it out there, and it just started blowing up.
Just like when you loaded it up on YouTube. Just put it out there and look out! Here come the fans.
Yeah, I guess it’s the right thing. So they had me open for Colt Ford. There were a couple thousand people.
Wait, you had never performed in public before?
I had never performed in my life. Nothing like that. It was nerve-wracking. I didn’t know what to expect. The cheering went crazy.
Well, it was a pretty good bet you already had a ton of fans out there wanting to see Lenny Cooper.
Then thousands of people were singing my song, word for word. It was mind-blowing. So after that first show it was another eight months till I did another show and an album.
You’re talking about Diesel Fuel. There are a lot of great songs on that one. “Big Tires,” “Country Boy With Swag,” and so on.
Yeah, it did really well. It was in the top 100 of the Billboard Country Album chart. Then in 2012 I went on tour with Colt, The LACs, JB and The Moonshine Band, Rehab, and Bubba Sparxxx.
It looks like you had a great time making the “Country Folks Anthem” with Charlie Farley.
That was easy to make. There was no acting. It was all natural, like how we live out in the woods. Charlie is talented. He has quite a vocabulary.
Did you write the songs on your new release, The Grind?
I wrote the first two albums (Diesel Fuel and Mud Dynasty) but I thought we could all put our heads together on this. There is a lot of talent on this one. Jared and DJ KO with Phivestarr did a lot of writing with me. I love working with them. It’s always a blast, and they put out nothing but hits when it comes to music. I also wrote with Noah Gordon. We wrote a song that features Bucky Covington called “Redneck Country Song.” I love this album and think it’s my best yet. It was a lot of fun and there’s some great music on here.
Colt Ford seems like he genuinely enjoys helping talented folks to develop their careers. What’s it like to be taken under his wing?
I thank Colt for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the project and movement that is going on. I thank him and the label for believing in me and giving me the chance to do what I do best.
We hear you’ll be joining the Monster X Tour in the next few months.
The first of the year (2015) I’ll be headlining my own arena on the tour. A while back, my wife and I were invited to the show with VIP tickets, and we went. We had a great time. We got to be close friends with them, and when it was over I was thinking that they needed something more. We need to move the crowd on down and finish out with a concert. You get 6,000 to 10,000 people at these events. It just seemed like a good idea.
Sounds like it’ll be one heck of a party! Oh, and tell us about the “Average Joes” comic book. I hear you all have superpowers.
Never in a million years did I ever think I’d be a superhero in a comic book. We’ve got some fans already. A little girl e-mailed Average Joes asking, “Is Lenny Cooper going to be OK. Is he coming back?” We’re going to release the second issue when my new album releases. There will be a surprise character in store. I can’t say who, but it’s good!
Are you looking for any new toys?
Well, if I get a wild hair, or time on my hands, I want another truck like my old one. The 1987 Chevy. I’d jack that thing up and make it real nice!
Thank you, Lenny. It was a real pleasure!
Yep, his is one great story, and like a really good book, you just don’t want to put it down, and you certainly don’t want it to end. So while we await the next chapter, maybe y’all go and stretch out in the hammock with The Grind and a nice cold one. We know that’s where we’ll be. “Oh hell, yeah!”