Chris LeDoux Biography

Chris LeDoux, the beloved American country music singer, captivated audiences with his cowboy folk and rodeo rock ‘n’ roll. With a voice that echoed his years as a professional rodeo champion, LeDoux’s performances transported listeners to the heart of a rodeo. His infectious enthusiasm, rhythm, and tempo made fans feel like active participants in his shows. Beyond his cowboy persona, LeDoux showcased his versatility by delivering heartfelt love ballads and energetic, fun-loving songs with equal passion. Unlike many artists, LeDoux’s motivation stemmed from his genuine love for music, rather than fame or fortune. His unique blend of cowboy folk, rodeo rock ‘n’ roll, country soul, and sage brush blues created an authentic sound that earned him the title of “A real country singer singing real country music.” Drawing inspiration from his own experiences as a rodeo champion, LeDoux’s compositions about rodeo life resonated with listeners, further enhancing the authenticity of his music. Known for his down-to-earth nature, LeDoux was adored and respected by his fans and friends alike, leaving an indelible mark on the world of country music.

Quick Facts

  • Died At Age: 56
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Peggy Rhoads, children: Beau, Cindy, Clay, Ned, Will
  • Musicians
  • Country Singers
  • Died on: March 9, 2005
  • Place of death: Casper, Wyoming, United States
  • Cause of Death: Cancer
  • U.S. State: Mississippi
  • Founder/Co-Founder: American Cowboy Songs recording company
  • Awards: 2005 – CMA Chairman’s Award of Merit

Childhood & Early Life

Chris LeDoux was born in Mississippi to Bonnie and Alfred LeDoux. His father was in the U.S Air Force, and the family moved often because of his career. He learned to ride horses when he was quite young, and participated in his first rodeo riding when he was 13. He won a lot of junior rodeo competitions as a teenager.

He attended Cheyenne Central High School and won the Wyoming State Rodeo Championship in bareback riding twice. It enabled him to earn a rodeo scholarship to Casper College. His interest in music developed during his college days when he started listening to country soul and began playing the guitar. He wrote his classic tune “Bareback Jack” as a college student. He also studied at Sheridan and Eastern New Mexico University on another rodeo scholarship. He won the Intercollegiate National bareback riding Championship.

Career

He became a professional rodeo in 1970 and competed on the national rodeo circuit. During this time, he also began to compose songs describing his lifestyle. He established a recording company, American Cowboy Songs, with his father and released his first album in 1971. He became the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s (PRCA) world champion in bareback riding in 1976 when he won the National Rodeo Finals in Oklahoma City. This boosted his music career as well because his listeners now knew that the songs he wrote were authentic. He retired from his career as a professional rodeo in 1980 to concentrate on his music. Within three years he released four albums and sold more than 2,50,000 copies of his album with little marketing. He also gave concert performances in the 1980’s which were very lively and popular—he rode a mechanical bull between the songs and there were fireworks to add to the excitement. By the end of the 1980’s he had self-released 22 albums and had garnered a huge fan following. For a long time he preferred not to sign any recording contracts as he wanted to maintain his independence. However, he did sign a contract with Capitol Records subsidiary Liberty Records later on. Over the 1990’s, he released many albums for Liberty records including, ‘Western Underground’, ‘Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy’, ‘Haywire’ and ‘Stampede’. In the new millennium, he released three albums ‘Cowboy’, ‘After the Storm’, and ‘Horsepower’.

Major Works

LeDoux’s 1992 album ‘Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy’ was his most successful album, certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The single ‘Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy’ which he sang with fellow country singer Garth Brooks went on to become one of his most loved songs. His album ‘Best of Chris LeDoux’, released in 1994 was a collection of some of his most memorable songs. It was accredited Gold in the U.S. In 1999, the album ’20 Greatest Hits’ was released. It included his biggest hits like ‘Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy’, ‘Gravitational Pull’, ‘and Stampede’, etc. It was his only album to be certified Platinum in the U.S.

Awards & Achievements

His duet ‘Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy’ which he sang with Garth Brooks was nominated for the Grammy Award in the category Best Country Vocal Collaboration in 1993. He was posthumously awarded the Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music in 2005. The award was accepted by his good friend Garth Brooks on behalf of LeDoux’s family.

Personal Life & Legacy

He married his wife, Peggy Rhoads, in 1972. They had five children. He was known to be a dedicated husband and father. He had been suffering from liver ailments and underwent a liver transplant in 2000. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2004 and died in March 2005 at the age of 56.

Trivia

The first horse he owned was a buckskin gelding named Comanche which had been gifted by his grandfather. When he needed a liver transplant, his good friend Garth Brooks offered a part of his own liver. His biography titled ‘Gold Buckle Dreams’ was published in 1987. He was also a bronze sculptor in addition to being a rodeo champion and singer. One of his sculptures is on display in the Wyoming Pioneer Memorial Museum.

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