Kid Rock Rapper Joe C. Dead At 26
Nov 17, 2000,
Longtime Kid Rock sidekick Joe C. -- real name
Joseph Calleja -- died in his sleep in Taylor, Mich. on Thursday (Nov. 16), according to a
statement from Atlantic Records. He was 26.
"Family and friends are everything; without them, all of the fame and fortune
means nothing," said Kid Rock in a statement released on Friday (Nov. 17). "We
have lost part of our family. Joey gave us and the world his love. He brought a smile to
everyone who has ever known or seen him. In a world full of confusion, Joey made all of us
laugh. No matter what color, religion, race, or beliefs we have, he made us all smile. He
gave us the gift of joy. Joey, thank you. We will never forget you. We love you."
Joe C. suffered from a digestive condition called Celiac disease, a genetic disorder
which was to blame for his pint-size stature (Joe C. rapped on Rock's Devil Without A
Cause that he was 3 feet 9 inches tall). The rapper joined Rock's Twisted Brown
Trucker band in 1994 and had become an integral part of the band's live show since Rock's
launch to stardom in 1998.
"It's a shock and a major disappointment," adds Joe Nieporte, owner of the
Emerald Ballroom in Mount Clemens, Mich., a promoter who has worked with Kid Rock and Joe
C. at various venues throughout town. "I've known Joe for probably about eight years.
[He was always] a lot of fun. Lots of fun. Lots of laughs. He's a very funny guy. Very,
The last time Nieporte saw Joe C. was Oct. 17 at the State Theater in Detroit at an
Eddie Griffin show. He hung out with the rapper and he seemed "fine," Nieporte
told allstar on Friday (Nov. 17).
In a prepared statement released on Friday, Lava Records President Jason Flom
commented: "Joe C. was an extraordinary inspiration. He overcame tremendous adversity
to become a great performer and a truly wonderful human being. Despite living with chronic
pain, Joe C. never let his condition prevent him from living life to the fullest and
brightening the lives of everyone who knew him, on or off the stage. He was a deeply loved
member of our extended family and we will all miss him greatly."
Kevin Raub with Christina Fuoco
| Kid Rock sidekick Joe C., 26, dies at Taylor home
By Wendy Case / The Detroit News
TAYLOR -- Joseph Calleja, a rapper and Kid Rock sidekick who was widely known in
the music business as Joe C., died Thursday night at his home in Taylor.
Calleja rapped on Kid Rock's 1998 multiplatinum Lava/Atlantic debut album Devil Without a
Cause. He performed all over the world with Romeo-born Kid Rock and his Twisted Brown
Trucker band, including their breakthrough performance at Woodstock '99.
The 26-year-old Calleja had been afflicted since childhood with celiac disease, an
intestinal disorder that stunted his growth and prevented the absorption of nutrients.
Calleja was a major component of Kid Rock's tightly knit, sensational rap-rock entourage.
A small man with a passion for the rock 'n' roll high life, he made his own fans along the
"He was a cool, bratty character and he knew what he was. He had a sense of humor
about it," said fan and local musician Bob "Bootsey X" Mulrooney. "But
he was also nothing short of heroic. I just really thought he was a cool character."
In a statement prepared by his record label, Kid Rock said Friday: "Family and
friends are everything; without them, all of the fame and fortune means nothing. We have
lost part of our family. Joey gave us and the world his love. In a world full of
confusion, Joey made all of us laugh. He gave us the gift of joy. Joey, thank you. We will
never forget you. We love you."
Band members, friends and family were to gather at Kid Rock's Detroit-area home Friday
night to pay tribute. Funeral arrangements were unavailable.
Interview with Joe C. 3 years before his death:
The Outlaw Joe C. Wails
EW asks Joe C. seven stupid questions. Kid Rock's sidekick speaks out on Mini-Me, Chris
Rock, and the letter C
by Rob Brunner
He may be small, but Kid Rock's 23-year-old
sidekick, Joe C., is blowing up. He recently wowed crowds at Woodstock and the MTV Video
Music Awards with his... well, we're not really sure what he does. But the short-statured
C. -- whose growth was stunted by complications from celiac disease, a digestive disorder
-- will start working on his debut album, which he says may or may not be called
''Enquiring Size Wants to Grow.''
What does the C. stand for?
It's just my last name, Calleja. But it also stands for ''chronic.'' And ''chronical,''
which is chronic. But it's a different word.
There's you, Mel C, and Vitamin C. Why is C such a happening letter?
'Cause it involves Joe C. It's all me. This is just the start. It's gonna be chaos,
nothing but Cs. You should probably change your name now just to get an early start.
What exactly is your job?
I just hold it down and get the audience riled up. I'm the hype man. I'm the vertically
People think you can't rap. Can you give me a rhyme to prove them
Um...let me think: "Joe C. is chillin'/So f--- heat miser/I don't drink beer/But bud
makes me wiser."
Why are little people so hot right now?
Cause of Joe C. and Mini-Me. My boy Verne [J. Troyer], Mini-Me. I gotta give love to him.
Chris Rock said some harsh things about you at the MTV awards. How do
I got nothing but love. But just to let everyone know -- I've said it so many times it's
ridiculous -- I'm not a midget, I'm vertically challenged. F--- it, if you're a midget,
you're a midget. Deal with it. But I'm not a midget, so I don't need to deal with it.
I know it's been hammered home a million times, but I'm not a f---ing midget. And...
actually, no. I don't even care at this point. I've said it so I'm not gonna say it
anymore. And I used to be hooked on phonics, but now I'm hooked on chronic. That's about