Chris Lee LeDoux,
Born Oct. 2, 1948, in Biloxi, Miss., LeDoux got his start in junior rodeo and at the same time became absorbed in music. He joined the PRCA in 1968 and qualified for the National Finals Rodeo five times. In 1976, he won the bareback riding world title. LeDoux retired from competition in 1980, but continued writing and singing about the rodeo life.
He began recording songs in the early 1970s and went on to national stardom with such songs as "A Cowboy Like Me," "Too Tough to Die" and "What More Could a Cowboy Need?" His songs captured the romance, the freedom, the dirt and the hurt of rodeo. LeDoux had recorded 22 albums of his own, when Garth Brooks mentioned his name in the 1989 hit song, "Much Too Young (To Be This Damn Old)." As a result, LeDoux's music became more widely known, and he went on to sign with Brooks' record label, Capitol Records. He recorded 36 albums during his career and sold nearly six million records.
In 2000, he was diagnosed with a liver disease and successfully underwent a liver transplant. Within six months of surgery, he was on tour again throwing himself right back into the hard-driving full-force stage shows that included a mechanical bucking machine.
In 2004, he was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct and began radiation treatment.
On March 9, 2005, the singer/songwriter, rodeo champion and acclaimed sculptor lost his battle with cancer at the age of 56 in Casper, Wyo. His body was cremated the next day per his wishes.
On July 16, 2005, he was inducted into The ProRodeo Hall of Fame with five other individuals receiving the ultimate honor in professional rodeo.
Chris LeDoux's ashes spread on Frontier Park Arena by his son Beau LeDoux (07/25/2007) Article
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SUMMARY
1964 Little Britches Rodeo Bareback World Championship
1967 Wyoming State High School Bareback Bronc Championship
1969 National Intercollegiate Bareback Riding Champion.
1976 Bareback Bronc World Championship
Height: 6 feet 1 inch
Parents: mother Bonnie; father Alfred, died in 1995
Spouse: the former Peggy Rhoads, married Jan. 4, 1972. "My wife rodeoed with me," Chris says. "We spent a week by the river in California eating beans and bologna when we first got married. I found the perfect lady for this old cowboy."
Children: Clay, 29; Ned, 24; Will, 22; Cindy, 21; Beau, 19
Residence: Haywire, a 700-acre ranch near Kaycee, Wyo.
First horse: a buckskin gelding named Comanche that Chris' grandfather bought for him
First rodeo: a Boy Scout rodeo in Texas in which Chris won four out of the six events he competed in
First world championship title: 1964 Little Britches Rodeo Bareback World Champion
Rodeo life: In 1967, Chris won the Wyoming State High School Bareback Bronc Championship and decided to remain in Wyoming and attend Casper College on a rodeo scholarship. In 1969, he transferred to Eastern New Mexico University on another rodeo scholarship, then quit school to follow the circuit professionally. In 1976, he won the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association title of World Champion Bareback Rider. Chris estimates that he had more than 1,500 rides as a professional cowboy from 1970 through 1984.
Rodeo trails: In the 1970s, Chris hit the road in Rodeo Rose, a reddish orange 1972 Chevy Suburban. "I built a bed in the back and put in an eight-track player and it was like home," he says. "That car took me through the best part of my rodeo career. I put three engines in it and 350,000 miles on it before it broke down forever."
First album: Songs Of Rodeo Life was recorded in a basement studio in Sheridan, Wyo., in 1972. "I was playing rhythm guitar and singing," Chris recalls, "and some rancher was playing lead and a highway patrolman was playing bass." His parents duplicated the tapes in their kitchen, and Chris sold the album on the rodeo circuit.
Sculptor: Chris' bronze Western sculptures have won Best of Show awards in statewide exhibits in Wyoming and Nevada; Charlie Daniels and Garth Brooks are among those who collect his work; and one of his pieces is on display in the Wyoming Pioneer Memorial Museum in Douglas, WY.
Weathering the storm: In the summer of 2000, Chris was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, the same liver disease that felled Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton. Fan and friend Garth Brooks offered to donate part of his liver to Chris, but doctors determined that Garth's liver was too small for the procedure. In October 2000, Chris underwent a successful transplant and has since resumed touring and recording. "I've always been the kind of guy who appreciated every day. Those feelings are even more keen now. Every aspect of life feels special to me."
Gold albums: Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy (1992); Best Of Chris LeDoux (1994); 20 Greatest Hits (1999)
Billboard Top 10 single: "Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy" (No. 7, 1992, featuring Garth Brooks)
Published on: May 8, 2002 - Country Music Weekly
It has been said that Chris LeDoux has a real cowboy voice. He is just a tad bit gravelly with a western accent. With a voice like that it's easy to fall in love with all of his songs. When he sings about the trials of rodeo and the heartaches of love, you can tell by his voice that he has experienced all that he sings about. His love for his wife and family, the outdoors, ranching, and rodeo, all come through loud and clear in the songs he sings. It has also been said that Chris has a songwriters voice. Mike Corcoran Wrote in the Dallas Morning News, "It's strong yet vulnerable, like a well-worn pair of snakeskin boots. When he wraps his voice around tales of bucking broncs, you can almost feel the thrill, as well as the pain. The words of his cowboy songs seem to lounge in his throat for a glorious millisecond before they spring out like the truth.
He is the finest, brightest, and most brilliant songwriter to have ever picked up a pen and a guitar. All the words come to him effortlessly and endlessly. His music is about a world many have only seen in the movies, and others believed to be lost to history.
The rhythm of his music varies from song to song. He can sing an up-beat, fun loving song just as easily as he can sing a love song or country rock. Even though most of his listeners will never attend a rodeo, they can hear the crowd going wild, smell the riders fear, and feel the dust seeping into their jeans through one of his songs. One of his most loved and often played song is "Tougher than the rest". The song beautifully describes his love for his wife and tells her that even though he may not be the most handsome, most romantic, or have the most money he will always be tougher than the rest.
In 1986 "Running Through the Rain" was a Billboard pick and used on a commercial by the Ford Motor Company in several states. The song went "Just rollin' down that great American highway. With that morning sky lit up like a flame, chasin' dreams and followin' a rainbow. Like children running through the rain.
His biography was released in 1987, along with his 19th CD, both titled, "Gold Buckle Dreams". The Biography tells of his life on the rodeo circuit, the trials and tribulations he had to go through to become the wonderful singer he is now.
His 1988 release, Chris LeDoux and the Saddle Boogie Band, was called a "must" for every cowboys' record collection, by CashBox. Every song on this CD is awesome, there aren't very many CD's I find where I like every song. One song on the album tells of a young mans dreams of being a cowboy, and leaving his family to rodeo. Another fantastic song, "Look at you Girl", tells of a cowboy coming home to visit after being on the road for awhile, going to a dance and falling in love for the first time. One of his most treasured songs is on this CD. "Utah Tribute", tells of his appreciation for the fans in Utah who have been there for him since the beginning.
In 1989 Chris found himself a household name. Every one that listened to country music had to know who Chris LeDoux was. Another prime CD was released called "Powder River Home." On this CD was a song, "Blue Bonnet Blues", that was a Billboard and CashBox pick. He didn't have to wonder if there was anyone out there listening to his music. He got the recognition he deserved, but wasn't chasing. For Chris the love of singing is what he sings for, not for the fame, fortune or the money, unlike another singer out there. You see all these rappers, rock artists and R & B artists who sing for the money and the attention, Chris has never been like that.
His duet with Garth Brooks, "Whatcha gonna do with a cowboy," was nominated for a TNN/Music City News Award, a Grammy, and an Academy of Country Music Award. After being released in 1992 his CD, also titled, "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy", went gold.
In 1993 he released another majestic CD titled "Under This Old Hat." He had somehow recorded another CD that was worthy of bringing a tear to the eyes. In this CD he sings a song, "She's Tough", which tells that his woman is "...tough even to stand by me when it all comes tumbling down. She's tough enough to steady me when I'm standing on shaky ground. When it comes to tenderness, buddy that's when she's at her best. When the going gets rough, she's tough."
In 1994 he released "Best of Chris LeDoux". Which had most of his cherished songs. The next year he released "Haywire". It was another triumphant CD. He later released another "Best of" CD, but this one was titled "Chris LeDoux Live."
He is a very diverse singer. He sings with old timers, like Charlie Daniels, a popular singer in country music; such as Garth Brooks; and on his 1999 release, "One Road Man", he sings "Bang A Drum" with rock icon Jon Bon Jovi.
He has been named by the press "...the last of true western song stylists." One reporter even wrote, "A real country singer singing real country music. What a concept." His legendary honesty and directness all make him adored by the press.
He has sold over $4 million worth of product since 1972. Him and his brother sold his albums out of the back of his truck after rodeos and out of booths after his concerts.
Another one of his prized songs is "Silence on the Line", which was re-released on his CD, "Cowboy".
Chris LeDoux has always been a leader, he is considered a rodeo legend, folk hero, and a world class entertainer. He describes his music as country soul, sage brush blues, cowboy folk, and rodeo rock and roll. Chris is so influential that many new comers have patterned the way they sing after him. George Strait released "Amarillo by Morning" two years after Chris did. Tracy Byrd released "Big Love" after Chris did. But since these guys are more media related, and promoted their releases more, they had more luck than Chris did.
Chris has always done things "his way" and will never change his ways just because the media says he should. Many rappers and other singers change the way they act, dress, and even talk just because the media says they should.
Some Groups like Metallica can write songs that deal with life situations, but Chris does it in a way that you can feel that you are actually experiencing it. There are songs that have good voices like the lead singer of Creed, of all the singers Chris has a voice that stands out amongst the rest.
Chris has ecstatic rhythm, he can go from a country rock to a love ballad and make it extremely fantastic. Chris has a range of rhythm and tempo that makes you want to get up and dance or even sit there and imagine yourself in the song.
Chris has never been nominated for an award, other than his duet with Garth Brooks. He doesn't sing for the awards, he sings because he loves it and he sings for the fans. It has never mattered to Chris LeDoux that he isn't quite as well-known in the east as he is in the west. The west is home to him and is a lot of what he sings about. Maybe he is more popular in the west is because the people here can understand what he sings about.
Chris LeDoux is a plain-spoken man, whose family valued come first and everything else second.
Quote from Chris LeDoux:
"What I want to be known for, on top of everything else, is that I was a good husband and family man."