Sunday, April 22, 2012

Road Trip: Wyoming - Cowboy Chris LeDuox

From Wikipedia.com Early years LeDoux was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. His father was in the US Air Force and was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base at the time of his birth. The family moved often when he was a child, due to his father's air force career. He learned to ride horses while visiting his grandparents on their Michigan farm.[2] At age 13, LeDoux participated in his first rodeo, riding in Denison, Texas, and before long was winning junior rodeo competitions. LeDoux continued to compete in rodeo events and played football through his high school years, with rodeos keeping most of his attention. When his family moved to Cheyenne, 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. LeDoux married Peggy Rhoads on January 4, 1972, and they had five children: Clay, Ned, Will, Cindy and Beau. Rodeo success and music beginnings In 1970, LeDoux became a professional rodeo cowboy, competing on the national rodeo circuit. To help pay his expenses while traveling the country, he began composing 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. 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. 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. LeDoux continued competing for the next four years. He retired in 1980 to nurse injuries and to spend more time with his growing family. 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.[3] His concerts were very popular, and often featured a mechanical bull (which he rode between songs) and fireworks.[4] 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 22 albums.[3] 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 Garth Brooks' Top-10 country hit "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)." To capitalize on the sudden attention[citation needed], 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 No. 7 in 1992. In concert, he ended the song by saying, "Thanks, Garth!" For the next decade, LeDoux continued to record for Liberty. He released six additional records, one of which, 1998's One Road Man, made the country Top 40.[3] Towards the end of his career, LeDoux began recording material written by other artists, which he attributed to the challenge of composing new lyrics.[4] With his 2000 release, Cowboy, he returned to his roots, re-recording many of his earliest songwriting creations. Illness and death In August 2000, LeDoux was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, which 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 received a transplant on October 7, 2000.[5] After his recovery he released two additional albums. In November 2004, LeDoux was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma and underwent radiation treatment for it until his death on March 9, 2005 of complications from the disease at a Casper, Wyoming hospital.[3] He was survived by his wife of 33 years, Peggy, and their children Clay, Ned, Will, Beau, and Cindy, as well as his mother, Bonnie.