Precinct 333

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Chris LeDoux -- RIP

Chris LeDoux started out as a bareback rider on the rodeo circuit, won the gold buckle at the National Finals Rodeo, and then turned to music when his career was over, developing a fan-base that included mega-star Garth Brooks. He died today from complications related to liver cancer, one of the many illnesses he has battled over the last decade.

LeDoux, known little outside the rodeo circuit until country superstar Garth Brooks paid tribute to him in a song, described his music as a combination of "Western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk and rodeo rock 'n' roll."

He and Brooks teamed up for the Top 10 hit, Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy, in 1992.

In November, LeDoux canceled several tour dates while undergoing treatment for cancer of the bile duct. He had undergone a liver transplant in 2000 after a lengthy illness.

LeDoux (pronounced luh-DOO) had been playing guitar and harmonica and writing songs since his teens, and he used his musical skills to help pay for his rodeo entry fees.

He recorded songs about cowboys, the ups and downs of the rodeo circuit and his adopted home of Wyoming. In 1976, he became the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's world bareback champion.

By 1989, LeDoux had released 22 albums. They were mostly cassettes produced by his parents, which he sold at concerts and rodeos. He had a loyal, if limited, fan base.

But that all changed that year when Brooks had a hit with Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old), which included the line: "A worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze/seem to be the only friends I've left at all."

The song came at a time when LeDoux's career was sputtering with an independent label and no marketing.

"And here he comes along and mentions the worn-out tapes in his song," LeDoux said of Brooks in an interview with The Associated Press in 2001. "To me, Garth, he's kind of like my guardian angel. It's like every time I need some help, he's there."

I'm one of those who was introduced to LeDoux's music by the song. I understand why he was such a fan. Chris LeDoux had a style and a genuinness that you don't often find in country music today. I don't know that we will find his like again, given the current plague of pop-disguised-as-country that has been in vogue for the last decade or so.

They held a moment of silence for the great champion and talented singer at RodeoHouston tonight. The prayers of thousands were offered up for LeDoux and his family.

Rest in peace, Chris.

Cowboy up!


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