The pair have become friends with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora and a few years ago, the duo wrote a song with Bon Jovi called “We Got It Goin’ On.” When it was time to work on the project, Big Kenny called Bon Jovi to see if they’d work with them again.
“They were incredibly excited about it,” Big Kenny said. They met up in New York and spent two days writing and recording with Jon, ending up with two songs for the project. The album’s title was inspired by a comment made by Jon during a session.
“One of the songs has the line ‘Hillbilly Jedi’s with attitude,’” John Rich said. “Jon Bon looked at us and said, ‘If there were ever Hillbilly Jedi’s, it’s the two of y’all.’”
The idea for the album title started as a joke but quickly grew from there. Big & Rich’s record label had concerns however. The word ‘Jedi’ is owned by Star Wars director George Lucas and the label told the duo they weren’t going to be able to use it.
Big Kenny broke the news to Jon Bon Jovi when the pair met up at a charity event. What happened next was almost unbelievable. Big Kenny stood and watched as Jon picked up his phone on the spot and called George Lucas to ask about using the term.
In the end, Lucas granted them permission to use ‘Jedi’ in their album title – as long as they used it properly. “”Jedi,” not Jedi’s, because Jedi is both singular and plural,” Big Kenny said of George’s direction. “’So if they are going to use the word, use it correctly.’”
Hillbilly Jedi will feature “That’s Why I Pray,” the duo’s current single.