Singer-songwriter Chris LeDoux, who became a cult favorite on
the rodeo circuit during the 1970s, died March 9, 2005, in a
Casper, Wyoming, hospital after a lengthy illness. He was 56.
Chris LeDoux attended high school in Cheyenne,
Wyoming. While still at school, he twice won the state's bareback title.
In 1967, after graduating, he won a rodeo scholarship and received a
national title in his third year. In 1976, he became the Professional
Rodeo Cowboys Association's (PRCA) world champion in bareback riding.
LeDoux played guitar and harmonica and
wrote songs since his teens, and he used his musical ability as a
means of paying his way from one rodeo to another. Since 1971, he was recording songs about "real cowboys," and his albums combined his
own compositions about rodeo life with old and new cowboy songs. He
described his music as "a combination of western soul, sagebrush blues,
cowboy folk and rodeo rock 'n' roll."
Johnny Gimble and Janie Fricke are among
the musicians who have appeared on his records, and Garth Brooks
famously paid tribute to him in "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn
Old)." He and Brooks also teamed for the Top 10 hit, "Whatcha Gonna Do
With a Cowboy," in 1992.
In October 2000, after being ill for some time, he
underwent a liver transplant. In 2003, he released the album
"Horsepower" and celebrated career sales of more than 5 million albums.
It had been said that Chris LeDoux had a real
cowboy voice. It was just a 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, his voice
tells you that he experienced these things. Coming through loud and
clear in the songs he sang was his love for his wife and family, the
outdoors, ranching, and rodeo.
It had been said that Chris had 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
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. It
can be an up-beat, fun loving song just as easily as it can be a
love song or country rock. Even though most of the listeners of his
music 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
In 1986 "Running Through the Rain" was a Billboard
pick and used on a commercial by the Ford Motor Company in several
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 a wonderful singer.
His 1988 release, "Chris LeDoux and the Saddle Boogie
Band," was called a "must" for every cowboy's record collection, by CashBox.
In 1989 Chris LeDoux found himself a household
name. Everyone who listened to country music had to know the name of
Chris LeDoux. 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
His duet with Garth Brooks, "Whatcha Gonna
With a Cowboy," was nominated for a TNN/Music City News Award, a Grammy,
and an Academy of Country Music Award. Released in 1992, the album, "Whatcha
Gonna Do With a Cowboy," went gold.
In 1993 "Under This Old Hat" was released.
In 1994 he released "Best of Chris LeDoux," which had
most of his cherished songs. The next year he released "Haywire."
Chris LeDoux was a very diverse singer. He sang
with old timers, like Charlie Daniels,
Garth Brooks, and on his 1999 release, "One Road Man," he
sang "Bang A
Drum" with rock icon Jon Bon Jovi.
He was 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 made him adored by the press.
Chris LeDoux was always a leader. He was
considered a rodeo legend, folk hero, and a world class entertainer. He
described his music as country soul, sage brush blues, cowboy folk, and
rodeo rock and roll. George
Strait released "Amarillo by Morning" two
years after Chris did. Tracy Byrd released
"Big Love" after Chris did.
Chris had a range of rhythm and tempo that made you
want to get up and dance or even sit there and imagine yourself in the
Notable songs include --
- Cadillac Ranch
- Even Cowboys Like a Little Rock & Roll
- Hooked on an 8 Second Ride
- What'cha Gonna Do With a Cowboy?
- Riding for a Fall
- For Your Love
- Our First Year
- Little Long-Haired Outlaw
- Bareback Jack
will be missed. Remember him through his music.
For booking information
about country artists,
Genre -- Country
70s, 80s, 90s, 00s
Oct 2, 1948
Mar 9, 2005