Bice was born in Huntsville, Alabama to Nancy and Harold Elwin Bice. Music is in his family; his mother was a gospel singer (as were his grandmother, great-grandmother, and aunts). His father played guitar.
Bice's birth name was Harold Elwin Bice, Jr., but he was nicknamed "Bogart" as a newborn by his grandmother ("Granny Madge") because she thought he had "Humphrey Bogart eyes". His family continued to call him Bogart, but when Bice was in kindergarten he shortened it to "Bo" because he didn't think Bogart was cool.
Bice's parents divorced when he was very young, and his mother remarried years later. Bice grew up with his mother and step-father, Nancy and Earle Downes (a Coca-Cola manager), step-sisters Jenny and Sharan Downes, and half-brother John Cohran. Bice has two other half-siblings, Candice and Matthew, on his biological father's side. The Downes family moved around the South frequently. They lived in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, including the metro area of Atlanta. He first made his mark at the age of 13, when he won a local school competition. In 1990 when Bice was 14 years old they moved to England, as part of his step-father's European assignment with Coca-Cola in London. Bice spent his teenage years living in Gerrards Cross. The family were distant neighbors of Ozzy Osbourne.
Bice attended London Central High School, a Department of Defense school primarily for children whose parents served in the military or worked at the U.S. Embassy. In high school, he was found carrying his guitar everywhere, played football, attended proms, and had several girlfriends. It was around this time when Bice worked with some English alternative rock musicians. He formed his first band, Spinning Jenny, while living there.
Bice would have graduated in 1994, but in the fall of 1993, Bice dropped out of high school just before turning 18 to move back to Alabama, where he earned his GED and attended classes at Calhoun Community College from November 1996 to May 1997. Upon leaving Calhoun and spending one semester at the University of North Alabama in Florence, Bice turned professional and performed in shows all across the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Europe. He is a veteran of the nightclub circuit, and also an experienced songwriter, releasing his first CD in 1995 with his band Purge. His other pre-Idol bands include Blue Sued Nickel (sic) and SugarMoney. Among his credits are opening for Blackfoot and Warrant as well as performing live and recording with Johnny Neal, formerly of The Allman Brothers Band. Bice had recorded other albums prior to his stint on American Idol, which included "Ex Gratia" (1999) with his band Purge, and "Recipe for Flavor" (2000) by Bo Bice & SugarMoney.
In 2001, Bice was charged with purchasing cocaine at a strip club. In 2003, Bice was arrested for possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and public intoxication. He avoided jail time, however, by agreeing to enter a drug program.
While working as manager of a guitar store, Bice met Caroline Fisher who was working her way through college as a waitress in a nearby diner (in Hoover, Alabama). During that same period of time, Bice became a very active and devoted member of New Hope Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
After two years of dating, Bice married Caroline Merrin Fisher (born 1980) on June 15, 2005 in Helena, Alabama. The couple have four children: sons Aidan Michael (born on September 24, 2005), Caleb James (born on August 5, 2008), Ean Jacob (born on January 22, 2010), and daughter Merrin Elizabeth Joy (born on April 23, 2012). They reside in Nashville.
For the 2005 season, Idol producers raised their required age limit from 16–26 to 16–28. In August 2004, Bice’s mother dared him to go try out, since he was within the eligible age limit (he would turn 29 in November 2004). He dared his mother to come along, and she took him up on that dare.
Along with Constantine Maroulis, Bice was one of the oldest contestants to audition and participate on American Idol, as well as being the oldest contestant to have progressed the farthest in the singing competition. Bice and Maroulis are also notable for being among the first contestants to compete using the rock idiom.
A Southern rocker in musical approach and appearance, Bice did not fit into the normal American Idol mold. However, his early performance of The Allman Brothers Band's "Whipping Post" drew raves from the judges and established him as one of the favorites in the competition.
During the final three performance show, Bice took the enormous risk of performing without the benefit of a band or backup singers. This was the first time in the history of the show that anybody had ever attempted to sing a cappella at this stage in the competition. He sang "In a Dream", an obscure song recorded by 1990s metal band, Badlands. Throughout the season, Bice had been known for his sweeping command of the stage. This time, however, he stood alone and motionless, his long hair glowing under a single spotlight. His masterful performance was pitch-perfect, and was highly praised by the judges, including Clive Davis who spoke of looking forward to making an album with Bice.
In June 2005 Bice was quoted in Rolling Stone magazine that his last thought during the Idol finale was, "Please, God, don't let me win this thing." In comments during a subsequent appearance on The Today Show, Bice backed off this stance a bit, saying that he thanked all those who had voted for him. He then played solo acoustic guitar and harmonica to one of his own compositions, in addition to singing his Idol songs with a band.
In Alabama, May 24 was declared "Bo Bice Day" by Governor Bob Riley. In fact, Bice's pride in being an Alabama native resulted in the adoption of Lynyrd Skynyrd's hit "Sweet Home Alabama" as his "theme" during his tenure on American Idol. Two members of the group Lynyrd Skynyrd surprised Bice during his trip home from Idol and performed "Sweet Home Alabama" with him in his home town of Helena, Alabama. Bice and the entire Lynyrd Skynyrd group performed a rousing rendition of the song together during American Idol finals, bringing nearly the entire audience to their feet.
- Idol performances
|Auditions||Contestant's Choice||"In a Dream"||Badlands||Advanced|
|Contestant's Choice||"Whipping Post "||The Allman Brothers Band||Advanced|
|Hollywood Round 1||Contestant's Choice||"The Letter"||The Box Tops||Advanced|
|Hollywood Round 2||Contestant's Choice||God Bless the USA||Lee Greenwood||Advanced|
|Top 50||Contestant's Choice||"Get Ready"||The Temptations||Advanced|
|Top 24||Contestant's Choice||"Drift Away"||John Henry Kurtz||Safe|
|Top 20||Contestant's Choice||"Whipping Post"||The Allman Brothers Band||Safe|
|Top 16||Contestant's Choice||"I'll Be"||Edwin McCain||Safe|
|Top 12||Song of the 1960s||"Spinning Wheel"||Blood, Sweat & Tears||Safe|
|Top 11||Billboard Number Ones||"Time in a Bottle"||Jim Croce||Safe|
|Top 10||1990s||"Remedy"||The Black Crowes||Safe|
|Top 9||Classic Broadway||"Corner of the Sky"||Pippin||Safe|
|Top 8||Year They Were Born||"Free Bird"||Lynyrd Skynyrd||Bottom 2|
|Top 7||1970s Dance Music||"Vehicle"||The Ides of March (band)||Safe|
|Top 6||21st Century||"I Don't Want to Be"||Gavin DeGraw||Safe|
|Top 5|| Leiber & Stoller|
Current Billboard Chart
| "Stand by Me"|
| Ben E. King|
Los Lonely Boys
|Top 4|| Country|
Gamble & Huff
| "It's a Great Day to Be Alive"|
"For the Love of Money"
| Jon Randall|
|Top 3|| Clive Davis' Choice|
| "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"|
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
"In a Dream"
| Elton John|
The Rolling Stones
|Finale|| Idol Single|
| "Inside Your Heaven"|
"Long Long Road"
| Carrie Underwood/Bo Bice|
The Ides of March
|Carrie Underwood · Bo Bice · Vonzell Solomon · Anthony Fedorov · Scott Savol · Constantine Maroulis · Anwar Robinson · Nadia Turner · Nikko Smith · Jessica Sierra · Mikalah Gordon · Lindsey Cardinale|