CHRIS LeDOUX – Artist Profile
Pollstar Magazine – April 18, 1994 pg 3
Chris LeDoux may be relatively new to mainstream country music, but this champion of the rodeo had released 22 independent albums on cassette before stepping out of the saddle and into the world o f major label country music. LeDoux said he got his first guitar around the same lime he started gelling on bucking horses.
"Eventually I started writing song... about rodeo. I loved the sport so much I had to figure out some way to express it" LeDoux told POLLSTAR. When LeDoux married in 1972, he decided to put some of his songs on tape, attempting to earn a little extra income. "I didn't mind starvin', but I didn't want my wife to starve with me." LeDoux said his parents started a mail order business to get the tapes distributed. "I owe them a lot for that."
LeDoux won the Bareback Bronc World Championship in 1976, but eventually his rodeo career dwindled and he got involved in ranching in Wyoming. “That wasn’t very lucrative either. We bought the ranch a little bit before I quit rodeoing, back about '78. We lived on the edge of bankruptcy for about 12 years with that.” But LeDoux persevered, dividing his time between wrangling sheep and writing musk . "I just kept writin ' songs, and makin' albums and eventually our fan base built up over the years.
“And then a guy named Garth Brooks came along and mentioned something about listening to one of those worn out tapes [in his song "Much To Young (to Feel This Damn Old)"]. Then things really started movin'. [But] no one had ever heard of Garth Brooks, he was just some guy out of Oklahoma. Little did the world know this guy was going to explode all over the place." LeDoux said that if his career hadn't been affected by the mention in Brooks' song, he would have still been satisfied. "It's just nice to know that all the years I'd put into makin' music that at some point it had touched somebody.
In the mean time, western Merchandisers had gotten involved in the distribution loop for LeDoux’s indie label, American Cowboy Songs, and had sold nearly $4 million worth of his cassettes . Someone from Liberty Records told label proxy, Jimmy Bowen, "Man there' s a cowboy out there selling lots of records [and] someone need s to sign him," which is exactly what Liberty did.
It has been roughly four years since LeDoux signed with Liberty, and his ranch is finally paid for. “Everything has always come hard for me, and taken a long time. I'm glad things haven't come easy, or I probably wouldn't appreciate them." And LeDoux certainly appreciates having a permanent home to return to when he comes off the road. LeDoux' s father retired a major in the Air Force and he has lived in Mississippi , New York. France, Pennsylvania and Texas . He said the traveling prepared him for his 15O-days-a-year touring schedule, and having a place to call his own is important to him and his family. "You gotta have some rock to swim back to every once and a while." Although he is on the road a lot, LeDoux' s family - he has five children ranging in age from 11 to 21 - remains an integral part of his life and his career. "We're a unit. We do everything together." When summer time rolls around, LeDoux rents an extra bus and takes the entire family on the road with him. “I think it’s a pretty good education for them. It’s nice to get them out around the country and see how different people live, and realize that we' re all people, and the only differences are that we may dress different or have a different accent." LeDoux used to book all his dates on the road, but after he signed with Liberty, he put Dan Wojcik at Entertainment Artists and T K. Kimbrell at TKO Artist Management on his team. “It’s made things a lot easier for us. Once and a while I kind of miss having that contact with the people we are puttin’ on a show with. But it was just takin' too much of my time, having to sit at a desk when I should be writin' songs ."
LeDoux took a brief pause from his touring schedule to go into the studio in March. Now he is back on the road with a full schedule ahead of him. LeDoux said he will be playing all types of facilities. "If we were playin ' nothin ' but bars it would get tiresome. Or if we were playin' nothin ' but the big concert halls, I'm sure that would get a little tiresome too."
LeDoux has released three albums since signing to Liberty, his most recent being Under This Ol Hat. Liberty also re-released all 22 of his indie albums. His association with Garth Brooks was again brought to the public' s eye when the two of them sang a Brooks-penned duet and it ended up the title cut of LeDoux's second Liberty release, Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy. "I guess [Brooks ] felt he couldn' t sing it because he wasn't an actual cowboy." LeDoux's recorded music has been credited for helping break barriers between country and rock. But it was his live performances that motivated him to put the energy of rock into his western tunes. "I'd be standin' up there in one spot, singing my songs, and the crowd would be goin' nuts and havin' a great time. I wanted to be a part of that." So he wrote some songs that he felt had more punch and energy . "I wrote a song about ridin’ bulls, and it's strictly straight ahead rock ‘n' roll. Ridin' bulls is roc k 'n' roll . It’s nice to be able to do things now where you can take it from straight-ahead country ballads right up to a rock 'n' roll piece. You take people as far as you can, and then come back down to earth."
Does LeDoux ever miss the excitement or the rodeo? “I reminisce back on it, and think about how much fun it was. But no, I don't. I'm having as much fun now as I did back then. Now if I had a regular job that didn't have any thrill or excitement or adrenaline flow in it, I’m sure I' d really miss rodeoing." But LeDoux doesn't have a "regular job," though he seems to be a regular guy, And when all is said and done, he still has his cowboy life to return to. "Some day after the music career dwindles down. I'll probably ride off into the sunset and get totally involved in ranchin' again."