Chris LeDoux

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Chris LeDoux
Chris LeDoux promo photo.png
Chris LeDoux in May 1999
Background information
Born(1948-10-02)October 2, 1948
Biloxi, Mississippi, U.S.
Origin Cheyenne, Wyoming, U.S.
DiedMarch 9, 2005(2005-03-09) (aged 56)
Casper, Wyoming, U.S.
Genres Country, western, country rock
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter, rodeo competitor
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, harmonica
Years active1971–2005
Labels Liberty, Capitol

Chris LeDoux (October 2, 1948 – March 9, 2005) was an American country music singer-songwriter, bronze sculptor, and hall of fame rodeo champion. During his career LeDoux recorded 36 albums (many self-released) which have sold more than six million units in the United States as of January 2007. He was awarded two gold and one platinum album certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), was nominated for a Grammy Award, and was honored with the Academy of Country Music Music Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award. LeDoux is also the only person ever to both participate and perform at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Country music, also known as country and western, and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as American folk music and blues.

Bronze sculpture sculpture cast in bronze

Bronze is the most popular metal for cast metal sculptures; a cast bronze sculpture is often called simply a "bronze". It can be used for statues, singly or in groups, reliefs, and small statuettes and figurines, as well as bronze elements to be fitted to other objects such as furniture. It is often gilded to give gilt-bronze or ormolu.

Rodeo competitive sport

Rodeo is a competitive sport that arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later Central America, South America, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and later, cowboys, in what today is the western United States, western Canada, and northern Mexico. Today, it is a sporting event that involves horses and other livestock, designed to test the skill and speed of the cowboys and cowgirls. American style professional rodeos generally comprise the following events: tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding and barrel racing. The events are divided into two basic categories: the rough stock events and the timed events. Depending on sanctioning organization and region, other events such as breakaway roping, goat tying, and pole bending may also be a part of some rodeos.



Early years

LeDoux was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. He was of French descent on his father's side. 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 Wyoming farm. [1] At age 13, LeDoux participated in his first rodeo, and before long was winning junior rodeo competitions. [2]

Biloxi, Mississippi City in Mississippi, United States

Biloxi is a city and one of two county seats of Harrison County, Mississippi, United States. The 2010 United States Census recorded the population as 44,054, and in 2016 the estimated population was 45,975. The area was first settled by French colonists.

The French are an ethnic group and nation who are identified with the country of France. This connection may be ethnic, legal, historical, or cultural.

Wyoming State of the United States of America

Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the western United States. The state is the 10th largest by area, the least populous, and the second most sparsely populated state in the country. Wyoming is bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, and on the west by Idaho and Montana. The state population was estimated at 577,737 in 2018, which is less than 31 of the most populous U.S. cities including Denver in neighboring Colorado. Cheyenne is the state capital and the most populous city, with an estimated population of 63,624 in 2017.

LeDoux continued to compete in rodeo events and played football through his high school years. When his family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, 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 at Eastern New Mexico University, LeDoux won the Intercollegiate National bareback riding Championship. [1]

Cheyenne, Wyoming State capital and city in Wyoming, United States

Cheyenne is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Wyoming and the county seat of Laramie County. It is the principal city of the Cheyenne, Wyoming, Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Laramie County. The population was 59,466 at the 2010 census. Cheyenne is the northern terminus of the extensive and fast-growing Front Range Urban Corridor that stretches from Cheyenne to Pueblo, Colorado which has a population of 4,333,742 according to the 2010 United States Census. Cheyenne is situated on Crow Creek and Dry Creek. The Cheyenne, Wyoming Metropolitan Area had a 2010 population of 91,738, making it the 354th-most populous metropolitan area in the United States.

Cheyenne Central High School

Cheyenne Central High School is a public secondary school located in Cheyenne, Wyoming, United States. It serves Laramie County School District #1. The high school serves students who attended McCormick JHS, Clawson ES, Davis ES, Deming/Miller ES, Freedom ES, Gilchrist ES, Hobbs ES, Jessup ES, Pioneer Park ES, Willadsen ES, and Saddle Ridge ES in Cheyenne. The current principals are Dr. Stephen Newton, Brian Cox, Fred George, and Kristen Siegel.

Casper College Casper, Wyoming, US

Casper College is a public college located in the heart of Wyoming in Casper, Wyoming, United States. Casper College is one of the largest and most comprehensive community colleges in the region. Established in 1945 as Wyoming's first junior college and initially located on the third floor of Natrona County High School, Casper College moved to its current site 10 years later. Currently the campus consists of 28 buildings on more than 200 acres. The grounds are distinctive, with terraces that surround the modern buildings. It currently enrolls 4,023 students. There are approximately 250 faculty. The Tate Geological Museum is located on the south end of the campus. In 2011 Casper College was ranked in the Top 25 of all community colleges in the nation by

LeDoux married Peggy Rhoads on January 4, 1972. They had five children: Clay, Ned, Will, Beau, and Cindy. [3]

Ned LeDoux is an American country music singer and songwriter. He is the son of singer-songwriter Chris LeDoux, and has released one studio album.

Rodeo success and music beginnings

In 1970, LeDoux became a professional rodeo cowboy on the national circuit. [2] To help pay his expenses while traveling the country, he began composing songs describing his lifestyle. [1] 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 tapes at rodeo events out of the back of his pickup truck". [2]

In 1976 LeDoux won the world bareback riding championship at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City. [2] Winning the championship gave LeDoux more credibility with music audiences, as he now had proof that the cowboy songs he wrote were authentic. [4] LeDoux continued competing for the next four years. He retired in 1980. [2]

National Finals Rodeo

The National Finals Rodeo, organized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), is the premier championship rodeo event in the United States. The NFR showcases the talents of the PRCA's top 15 money-winners in each event as they compete for the world title.

Oklahoma City State capital city in Oklahoma, United States

Oklahoma City, often shortened to OKC, is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The county seat of Oklahoma County, the city ranks 27th among United States cities in population. The population grew following the 2010 Census, with the population estimated to have increased to 649,021 as of July 2018. The Oklahoma City metropolitan area had a population of 1,396,445, and the Oklahoma City-Shawnee Combined Statistical Area had a population of 1,469,124 residents, making it Oklahoma's largest municipality and metropolitan area by population.

Music career

With his rodeo career at an end, LeDoux and his family settled on a ranch in Kaycee, Wyoming. LeDoux continued to write and record his songs, and began playing concerts. [2] His concerts were very popular, and often featured a mechanical bull (which he rode between songs) and fireworks. [4] By 1982 he had sold more than 250,000 copies of his albums, with little or no marketing. By the end of the decade he had self-released 22 albums. [2]

Despite offers from various record labels, LeDoux refused to sign a recording contract, instead choosing to retain his independence and control over his work while enjoying his regional following. In 1989, however, he shot to national prominence when he was mentioned in Garth Brooks' Top 10 country hit "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)." Capitalizing 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 10. The title track, a duet with Brooks, became LeDoux's first and only Top 10 country single, reaching No. 7 in 1992. [2] In concert, he ended the song by saying, "Thanks, Garth!"

For the 35th annual Grammy Awards in 1992, the single track "Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy" was nominated for Best Country Vocal Collaboration. [5]

For the next decade, LeDoux continued to record for Liberty. He released six additional records, including One Road Man , which made the country Top 40 in the 1998. [2] Toward 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. [2]

The RIAA certified two gold and one platinum recordings for LeDoux. In February 22, 1993, the single "Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy" went gold. In June 2, 1997, the album The "Best of Chris LeDoux" went gold. And in October 5, 2005, the album "20 Greatest Hits" went platinum. [6] [7]

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 incompatible. An alternative donor was located, and LeDoux received a transplant on October 7, 2000. [8] After his recovery he released two additional albums. In November 2004, LeDoux was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma for which he underwent radiation treatment until his death on March 9, 2005 from the cancer. [2]


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, Colorado 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 his music". [9]

In 2004, the Academy of Country Music awarded LeDoux their Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award during ceremonies. [10] Brooks accepted the award on behalf of LeDoux's family. [11]

In late 2005, Brooks briefly emerged from retirement to record "Good Ride Cowboy" as a tribute to LeDoux. Brooks remarked: [12]

"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."

Garth Brooks performed the song on "The 39th Annual CMA Awards" on November 15, 2005, live from Times Square in New York City. Later that evening, LeDoux was honored with the CMA chairman's Award of Merit, presented by Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn, to LeDoux's family.

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 officially exhibited before his death. [13] However, LeDoux did have two pieces of sculpture that won awards when he was alive; it was more than just a hobby. [14] [15]

To mark the second anniversary of LeDoux's death, in April 2007 Capitol Records released six CDs featuring remastered versions of 12 of the albums he recorded between 1974 and 1993. [7]

Artist and sculptor D. Michael Thomas created 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," is on display at the Chris LeDoux Memorial Park in his hometown of Kaycee, Wyoming. [16]

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: [17]

"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."

The city in which LeDoux attended college, Casper, Wyoming, celebrates LeDoux each November with the Chris LeDoux Memorial Rodeo, a weekend event which includes an art show featuring a number of LeDoux's works, a PRCA rodeo and a country music concert.

In 2010, Robert Royston created "One Ride", a music and dance production that tells the story of the Rodeo Cowboy.

In 2011, country music artist Brantley Gilbert paid tribute to LeDoux in his single "Country Must Be Countrywide", with the line "From his Wranglers to his boots – he reminded me of Chris LeDoux. With that Copenhagen smile, Country must be countrywide." [18]

Rodeo honors

2003 Cheyenne Frontier Days and Old West Museum Hall of Fame. [19]
2005Inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame as Bareback Bronc Rider and Notable [20]
2006Rodeo Hall of Fame [21] at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
2007Texas Trail of Fame historic Fort Worth Stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas. [22]
Wyoming Sports Hall of Fame [23]
2012Cowboy Keeper [24]

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
1986Officially retired from rodeo competition


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Chris LeDoux was a rodeo cowboy who sang and recorded songs in his spare time and sold his albums from the back of his truck. With his father, he started his own record label, American Cowboy Songs, in 1970. Under that label he released 22 albums between 1971 and 1990. After gaining recognition from the 1989 Garth Brooks song, "Much Too Young " he was signed to Liberty Records, where he released 4 studio albums in four years. He released 6 more albums including a live album under Capitol Records. Horsepower in 2003 was his last studio album before his death in 2005. Nine official compilation albums have been released between 1994 and 2008. 20 Greatest Hits has been certified platinum by the RIAA.

"Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy" is a song written by Garth Brooks and Mark D. Sanders, and recorded by American country music artist Chris LeDoux with Garth Brooks. It was released in July 1992 as the first single from his album Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy. The song reached number 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in September 1992. Brooks is featured as a duet partner, although he only received chart credit in Canada.

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  18. Brantley Gilbert web site
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  24. "Cowboy Keeper Hall of Fame". National Day of the Cowboy. February 11, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2019.

Further reading