Chris LeDoux explained

Chris LeDoux
Img Size:200
Born:2 October 1948
Biloxi, Mississippi
Casper, Wyoming
Years Active:1979 - 2005
Occupation:Musician, singer-songwriter, rodeo competitor, bronze sculptor
Associated Acts:Garth Brooks

Chris LeDoux (October 2, 1948 - March 9, 2005) was an American country music singer-songwriter, bronze sculptor and rodeo champion.During his career LeDoux recorded thirty-six albums (many self-released) which have sold more than six million units in the United States as of January 2007. He was awarded one gold album certification from the RIAA, and was nominated for a Grammy Award and the Academy of Country Music Music Pioneer Award.


Early years

LeDoux was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast, in 1948. His father was in the US Air Force, and the family moved often when he was a child. He learned to ride horses while visiting his grandparents on their Texas farm. At age 13, LeDoux participated in his first rodeo, riding in Denison, Texas, and before long was winning junior rodeo competitions.[1]

LeDoux continued to compete in rodeo events through his high school years, and football, with rodeos keeping most of his attention. when his family moved to Cheyenne where he attended Cheyenne Central High School. After twice winning the Wyoming State Rodeo Championship bareback riding title during high school, LeDoux earned a rodeo scholarship to Casper College in Casper. During his junior year LeDoux won the Intercollegiate National Bareback Riding Championship.[2]

Rodeo success and music beginnings

In 1970, LeDoux became a professional rodeo cowboy, competing on the national rodeo circuit.[1] To help pay his expenses while traveling the country, he began penning songs describing his lifestyle.[2] Within two years he had written enough songs to make up an album, and soon established a recording company, American Cowboy Songs, with his father. After recording his songs in a friend's basement, LeDoux began selling his albums out of the back of his truck at rodeo events.[1]

His years of hard work bore fruit in 1976, when LeDoux won the world bareback riding championship at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City.[1] Winning the championship gave LeDoux more credibility with music audiences, as he now had proof that the cowboy songs he wrote and sang were authentic.[3] LeDoux continued competing for the next four years. He retired in 1980 to nurse injuries and to spend more time with his growing family.[1]

Music career

With his rodeo career ended, LeDoux and his family settled on a ranch in Kaycee, Wyoming. He continued to write and record his songs, and began playing concerts.[1] His concerts were very popular, and often featured a mechanical bull (which he rode between songs) and fireworks.[3] By 1982 he had sold over 250,000 copies of his albums, with little or no marketing. By the end of the decade he had self-released twenty-two albums.[1]

Despite offers from various record labels, LeDoux had refused to sign a recording contract, instead choosing to retain his independence and total control over his work while enjoying his regional following. In 1989, however, he shot to national prominence when he was mentioned in the debut song of future superstar Garth Brooks, the Top-10 country hit "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)." To capitalize on the sudden attention, LeDoux signed a contract with Capitol Records subsidiary Liberty Records and released his first national album, Western Underground, in 1991. His follow-up album, Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy, was certified gold and reached the top ten. The title track, a duet with Brooks, became LeDoux's first and only Top Ten country single, reaching #7 in 1992.[1]

For the next decade LeDoux continued to record for Liberty, recording six additional records, one of which, 1998's One Road Man, made the country Top 40.[1] Towards the end of his career, LeDoux began recording material written by other artists, as he was tired of fighting for the right words.[3] With his 2000 release, Cowboy, he returned to his roots, re-recording many of his earliest writing attempts.[1]

Illness and death

In 2000, LeDoux suffered an illness that required him to receive a liver transplant. Garth Brooks volunteered to donate part of his liver, but it was found to be incompatible. An alternative donor was located, and LeDoux did receive a transplant.[4] After his recovery he released two additional albums. LeDoux died on March 9, 2005 of complications from liver cancer.[1] He was survived by his wife of thirty-three years, Peggy,[5] and their children Clay, Ned, Will, Beau, and Cindy, as well as his mother, Bonnie.[6]


Shortly after his death, LeDoux was named as one of six former rodeo cowboys to be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs in 2005. He was the first person to ever be inducted in two categories, for his bareback riding and in the "notables" category for his contributions to the sport through music.[7]

Shortly thereafter, the Academy of Country Music awarded LeDoux their Pioneer Award during ceremonies in 2005. LeDoux's good friend Garth Brooks accepted the award on behalf of LeDoux's family.[8]

In late 2005, Brooks briefly emerged from retirement to record "Good Ride Cowboy" as a tribute to LeDoux. Brooks remarked:[9]

"I knew if I ever recorded any kind of tribute to Chris, it would have to be up-tempo, happy...a song like him...not some slow, mournful song. He wasn't like that. Chris was exactly as our heroes are supposed to be. He was a man's man. A good friend."

Friends have also collaborated to produce an annual rodeo, art show, and concert in Casper to honor LeDoux's memory. The art show features sculpture and sketches that LeDoux completed for friends; none of his works were ever exhibited before his death.[5]

To mark the second anniversary of LeDoux's death, in April 2007 Capitol Records released a six-cd boxed set featuring remastered versions of twelve of the albums he recorded between 1974 and 1993.[10]

Award-winning artist and sculptor D. Michael Thomas is creating a one-and-a-half times lifesize sculpture of Chris LeDoux during his 1976 World Championship ride on Stormy Weather. The statue, called "Good Ride Cowboy," will be displayed at the Chris LeDoux Memorial Park in his hometown of Kaycee, Wyoming.[11]

On Oct 26,2006 Chris LeDoux was inducted into Rodeo Hall of Fame @ National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK

Son Beau LeDoux, himself a rodeo competitor, on July 24, 2007, spread his father's ashes over Frontier Park Arena during the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo:[12]

"It was something my family and I thought would be right to do because this was such a special rodeo to him. . . . This has always been a special rodeo in my family. My dad rode here and came close to winning here a couple of times. . . ."

Rodeo career milestones

1964Little Britches Rodeo Bareback World Championship
1967Wyoming State High School Bareback Bronc Championship
1969"National Intercollegiate" Bareback Riding Champion
1976"Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association" Bareback World Championship
1984Officially retired from rodeo competition.


Studio albums

YearAlbumChart PositionsRIAALabel
US CountryUS
1971Songs of Rodeo Lifeself-released
1973Rodeo Songs "Old & New"
1974Songs of Rodeo and Country
1975Rodeo and Livin' Free
Life as a Rodeo Man
1976Songbook of the American West
1977Sing Me a Song Mr. Rodeo Man
1978Cowboys Ain't Easy to Love
Paint Me Back Home in Wyoming
1979Western Tunesmith
1980Sounds of the Western Country
Old Cowboy Heroes
1981He Rides the Wild Horses
1982Used to Want to be a Cowboy
1983Old Cowboy Classics
Thirty Dollar Cowboy
1984Melodies and Memories
1986Wild and Wooly
1987Gold Buckle Dreams
1988Chris LeDoux and the Saddle Boogie Band
1989Powder River
1990Radio and Rodeo Hits
1991Western Underground[A]36Liberty
1992Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy965Gold
1993Under This Old Hat21131
1996Stampede33Capitol Nashville
1998One Road Man24180
2002After the Storm14121
"—" denotes the album failed to chart, not released, or not certified


YearAlbumChart PositionsRIAA
US CountryUS
1994The Best of Chris LeDoux51Gold
American Cowboy
1995Rodeo Rock and Roll Collection
199920 Greatest Hits17145Platinum
2002The Capitol Collection (1990-2000)63
200420 Originals: The Early Years58
2005Anthology, Volume 120126
2006The Ultimate Collection33
2008Classic Chris LeDoux26175
"—" denotes the album failed to chart, not released, or not certified
^ Also reached #22 on the U.S. Top Heatseekers chart.


YearSingleChart PositionsAlbum
US CountryCAN Country
1979"Lean, Mean and Hungry"99Paint Me Back Home in Wyoming
"Caballo Diablo"98single only
1980"Ten Seconds In The Saddle"96Western Tunesmith
"Buckin' Machine"single only
1982"I Used to Want to be a Cowboy"Used to Want to be a Cowboy
1984"Even Cowboys Like a Little Rock and Roll"Melodies and Memories
1987"It Ain't The Years, It's The Miles"Gold Buckle Dreams
1991"This Cowboy's Hat"63Western Underground
1992"Workin' Man's Dollar"69
"Riding for a Fall"72
"Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy"75Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy
1993"Cadillac Ranch"1816
"Look At You Girl"5256Chris LeDoux & the Saddle Boogie Band
"Under This Old Hat"5453Under This Old Hat
"Every Time I Roll the Dice"6168
1994"For Your Love"5073
"Honky Tonk World"71Haywire
1995"Tougher Than the Rest"67
"Dallas Days and Fort Worth Nights"68
1996"Gravitational Pull"7177Stampede
1997"When I Say Forever"65
"Five Dollar Fine"
1998"Runaway Love"62One Road Man
"Bang a Drum" (with Jon Bon Jovi)68
1999"Life Is a Highway"64
"Stampede"6620 Greatest Hits
2000"Silence on the Line"65Cowboy
2001"He Rides the Wild Horses"
2002"Bareback Jack"After the Storm
"Cowboy Up"
2005"The Ride"
"Airborne Cowboy"Anthology, Vol. 1
"—" denotes the single failed to chart or not released

Further reading

External links

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Huey. Steve. Chris LeDoux. Allmusic. 2005. 2007-03-16.
  2. Web site: Chris LeDoux Biography. Country Music Television. 2005. 2007-03-16.
  3. Web site: Coon. Chuck. Chris Ledoux: Missing Chris. 2005. 2007-03-16.
  4. Web site: Gardner. Tom. Chris LeDoux Back After Transplant. PlanetGarth.Com. 2001-06-20. 2007-03-16.
  5. Web site: Stoelzle Graves. Deirdre. Losing, and finding, Chris LeDoux. Casper Star-Tribune. 2006-10-30. 2007-03-16.
  6. Web site: Dillon. Jenni. Cowboy, Singer LeDoux dies in Casper. Casper Star-Tribune. 2005-03-10. 2007-03-16.
  7. Web site: LeDoux Named to ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Country Music Television. 2005-04-22. 2007-03-16.
  8. Web site: Brooks to Accept LeDoux's Pioneer Award. Country Music Television. 2005-04-27. 2007-03-16.
  9. Web site: Smith. Hazel. A Conversation with Garth Brooks. Country Music Television. 2005-11-01. 2007-03-16.
  10. Web site: Chris LeDoux's Catalog Gems Remastered by Capitol Nashville / EMI. Capitol Records. 2007-01-22. 2007-03-16.
  11. Web site: Chris LeDoux Immortalized in Bronze. ChicagoAtHome.Com. 2007-03-07. 2007-03-16.
  12. Johnke, Jeremiah. "Remembrance: Singer's ashes spread on Frontier Park Arena" - Wyoming Tribune-Eagle - July 25, 2007