Bo Bice rocks Helena – Idol opens Buck Creek Festival

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bo Bice didn’t know how popular he was.

That changed last week.

Thousands of screaming fans welcomed the Helena native home Friday, as he made stops in Birmingham, Pelham and Helena. Bice, who is one of three American Idol finalists, flew home Thursday night.

&uot;This has been the most incredible day of my life,&uot; he told those at Helena’s Old Town Amphitheater. &uot;I’m not used to this whole Hollywood thing.&uot;

It was a night Bice, and his fans, will likely never forget.

Members of the popular band Lynyrd Skynyrd stayed an extra night after performing Thursday at the Verizon Music Center. They joined Bice on stage for two songs Friday, &uot;Sweet Home Alabama&uot; and &uot;Freebird.&uot;

On more than one occasion, Bice jumped off the stage so he could mingle with fans. After Bice’s mini-concert, he took a few minutes to sign autographs before flying back to southern California.

&uot;National TV is going to see y’all,&uot; he said, referring to the show’s film crews that shadowed him the entire day. &uot;I know – it’s kind of funny, isn’t it?&uot;

While Bice had little time to rest during his return home, he was more than honored with the buzz.

He arrived in Birmingham Thursday night. By early Friday morning, he was performing interviews with Birmingham radio and TV stations.

He came back to Shelby County mid-morning to sign copies of the American Idol album at a Pelham store. By the time Bice entered the store, there were hundreds of fans in line, waiting for a photo and an autograph.

Later that day, he met with Helena city employees before taking part in a mini-parade through Old Town Helena. Several hundred people lined the streets, holding signs welcoming Bice home and wishing him luck through the remainder of the competition.

He arrived at the amphitheater at 5 p.m. and performed for about an hour.

&uot;I’m home, baby!&uot; he screamed to 5,000 fans just after arriving at the amphitheater.

Before leaving the stage, he shouted a message to his fans.

&uot;I love you, and I wouldn’t be here without you,&uot; he told them. &uot;God bless you.&uot;

Bice is vying to become the second American Idol from the Birmingham area. Two years ago, Ruben Studdard won the competition, barely defeating Clay Aiken.

Bice is one of three finalists in this year’s competition, along with Carrie Underwood of Oklahoma and Vonzell Solomon of Florida.

American Idol aired Tuesday evening, and will air twice more this week: Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m.

Helena Mayor Sonny Penhale urged those in attendance Friday to vote for Bo.

&uot;Tuesday night, make sure you vote, vote, vote, vote,&uot; he said