For years, Chris LeDoux rode the rodeo circuit. And at the end of the day, when the horses were cleaned up and bedded down for the night, he'd get out his guitar and sing for his fellow riders.
They told him he could be a professional. He was a professional - a professional rodeo rider, something he did for 15 years. He captured the world bareback bronco riding title in 1976.Toward the end of his rodeo career, LeDoux made his first records. The albums sold at rodeos and won him a large radio audience, but a major recording contract was elusive. He still managed to sell more than $4 million in records as an independent and eventually signed an exclusive contract with Capitol Records.
When he rides the rodeo circuit now, he leaves his horse home. Instead, he performs the brand of music that he describes as a "combination of Western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk and rodeo rock 'n' roll."
LeDoux will perform at the West Jordan Main Park June 29. Tickets are available at all Smith'sTix locations.
He's considered a major country star west of the Mississippi, helped in part by the release of Garth Brooks' "Much Too Young (to Feel This Damn Old)." One line describes "listening to a worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux." LeDoux was driving to Casper, Wyo., when he heard the song on the radio.
"Then that line came on, and I almost ran off the road. Although things had been going pretty well for me and I'd been getting radio play in a lot of different places out there, sometimes I kind of felt like I was just out singing in the sagebrush and was wondering if anybody was really listening."
After a recording session together, Charlie Daniels wrote a poem in LeDoux's honor titled "Sing Me a Song, Mr. Rodeo Man."
Besides his noteworthy singing and riding, LeDoux is a sculptor whose bronze bull rider won a "Best Art of Show" at the Nevada State Fair and Best Bronze at a statewide showing in Wyoming.
He lives with his wife, Peggy, on a ranch in Wyoming, where he is raising his five children to carry on the Western tradition.
"The country itself shapes the way things are out here," he said. "I think we hang on to our traditions partly because we don't have as many large cities with that type of hectic lifestyle and partly because nature dictates it. There's nothing else you can do so you go along with Mother Nature."