MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Kid Rock described his new partnership with Harley-Davidson, which culminates with his performance at a concert in Milwaukee celebrating the motorcycle maker's 110th anniversary, as a "dream deal" that won't put off fans.
Kid Rock, whose upcoming tour is dubbed "Rebel Soul" after his most recent release, told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Tuesday that as the owner of multiple Harley bikes he didn't feel like he was compromising his integrity by making the Wisconsin company a title sponsor of the tour.
"Harley Davidson? Man, it's like a dream deal," the musician said in a telephone interview from his home in Michigan. "You know much like Jim Beam, it's something I've used that I've loved for a long time before this deal came about. It just makes sense. I've turned down countless deals that just don't make sense to me."
Jim Beam has been a corporate sponsor of Kid Rock's for years. But the new Harley-Davidson deal announced Monday marks the first time that either the motorcycle maker or Kid Rock has offered such an extensive line of cobranded merchandise.
The deal includes an exclusive line of limited-edition, cobranded "Rebel Soul" merchandise featuring a line from the song: "I can't hear you over the rumble of my freedom." The merchandise will be available at each Kid Rock show and participating Harley-Davidson dealerships.
Harley also is sponsoring a national contest to win a customized motorcycle that the winner can ride on stage with Kid Rock at the Milwaukee show.
The two have had an informal partnership for years, with Kid Rock riding Harley bikes and the company inviting him to play at its annual anniversary shows. But with the 110th anniversary coming, it made sense to take the relationship further, said Mark-Hans Richer, Harley's chief marketing officer.
"He's got a strong attitude, a great personality, he's a real rider," Richer said.
Richer would not release the terms of the deal.
"Honestly, it's always about the money, yes, but more importantly it's about something you truly believe in and truly use," Kid Rock said. "At least, people that like what I do and are into what I do understand that."
As a Harley owner, he said he has more authenticity than other celebrity hawkers.
"I would consider Peyton Manning and Shaquille O'Neal friends, but let's be honest, are they driving around in a Buick every day?" Kid Rock said. "I'm not so sure. I'd be surprised if they were."
Kid Rock's tour supporting "Rebel Soul," which was released in November, begins Saturday in Kansas City. It concludes Aug. 31 at Harley's 110th anniversary celebration in Milwaukee.
Another Harley fan and motorcycle owner is Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Kid Rock, who campaigned for Republican Mitt Romney last year, said he followed Walker's successful push in 2011 to effectively end collective bargaining for most public workers.
"I hope the workers and people find this to be better in the long run and if it's not, I hope they change it back," he said. "Union working class people are a lot of people who look to me, so it's a tough thing to say that and go out and support it, but at the same time you have to take a stance and say what you think is right."
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