In 1971, as a young cowboy on the professional rodeo circuit, Chris LeDoux discovered another one of his passions and began writing and performing authentic, lived-in songs about his western lifestyle and the American West. With the help of his parents, he launched his own record label, American Cowboy Songs, to release his first album, the aptly titled Songs Of Rodeo Life. Eventually, the world champ’s successful rodeo career, which included a slew of regional awards and a coveted, and long sought-after, Gold Buckle for the World Bareback Title at the 1976 National Finals Rodeo, was overtaken by an even more successful music career as LeDoux traded the thrill of riding broncs for the thrill of life on the road and performing his songs to thousands of adoring fans.
By the end of the 1980s, despite multiple offers to sign to a label, LeDoux had self-released 22 albums with sales of more than a quarter of a million copies. That same year, following a name check by rising country star Garth Brooks, in which he sang, “A worn out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze/Seem to be the only friends I’ve left at all,” in his first top 10 country hit, “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old),” LeDoux received recognition and a degree of fame well outside the rodeo world. He rode the newfound popularity like one of his prized ponies and signed with Capitol Records subsidiary Liberty and in 1991 released his major label debut, Western Underground. LeDoux would release another 18 albums for the labels, with sales of more than six million around the world, before succumbing to a rare form of cancer in 2005 at just 56 years old.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Chris LeDoux’s debut album, Capitol Nashville/UMe and the Chris LeDoux Estate will release a new 13-song collection on July 2 titled Wyoming Cowboy – A Collection, compiling some of his best-known songs with a handful of rarities and other studio and live gems. The compilation, assembled by LeDoux’s longtime friend and guitar player Mark Sissel, will be released digitally for streaming and download as well as on vinyl, marking the first time many of these songs, which were released in the CD era, will be available on vinyl. Two rare tracks – “Oklahoma Hospitality,” self-released in 1978 on a UK-only album and never released in the U.S., and “Album Intro,” from an equally long out-of-print 1975 record, will receive their digital debuts.
Pre-order Wyoming Cowboy – A Collection now: https://ChrisLeDoux.lnk.to/WyomingCowboy
Cheyenne Frontier Days™, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration, held in Cheyenne, Wyo., will celebrate LeDoux’s life and legacy at their 125th annual festival, which is dedicated to the legendary entertainer and rodeo world champ. The 10-day event will feature a sold-out, opening night performance by Garth Brooks and Ned LeDoux on July 23. The festivities will kick off earlier that day with the unveiling of a bronze statue of LeDoux, which will be added to the sculpture collection on Frontier Park to honor his ties to the rodeo and music worlds and his place in Cheyenne Frontier Days™ history where he rode bucking horses and graced the stage with his band, Western Underground. Designed by artist D. Michael Thomas, who also created a similar sculpture of LeDoux for the Chris LeDoux Memorial Park in his hometown Kaycee, Wyo., the life and a half size bronze statue depicts LeDoux riding his horse Stormy Weather to the 1976 World Bareback Riding Championship, along with a guitar that sits atop an arrow shaped base representing CFD’s logo.
Serving as both a gift to longtime fans and an introduction to those unfamiliar with LeDoux’s music, which he called a combination of “western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk and rodeo rock ‘n’ roll,” Wyoming Cowboy brings together some of the country star’s most popular songs like “County Fair,” “Cadillac Cowboy” and the epic “This Cowboy’s Hat” from Western Underground, his first major label album released on Liberty Records in 1991 along with “Western Skies,” “Look At You Girl,” “Hooked On An 8-Second Ride” and his top 10 country hit with Garth Brooks, “Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy,” from his 1992 gold-selling album of the same name.
The album also includes LeDoux’s rollicking duet with Charlie Daniels, “Even Cowboys Like A Little Rock And Roll,” from 1993’s Under This Old Hat and originally released in a different incarnation on his 1984 album, Melodies and Memories. In addition to the aforementioned rarities, “Oklahoma Hospitality” and “Album Intro,” Wyoming Cowboy also boasts a special posthumous collaboration between LeDoux and his son Ned with the song “We Ain’t Got It All.” Sung and performed by Ned, the song was co-written by him and Nashville producer and songwriter Mac McAnally using some of LeDoux’s songwriting notes, resulting in a true father and son co-write. With a remarkably similar singing voice and delivery, the song traverses much of the same subject matter that endeared the elder LeDoux to so many and that Ned proudly carries the torch for. The album ends with a thrilling live version of fan favorite “Little Long Haired Outlaw” from 1997’s Live, perfectly capturing the pyrotechnic-filled, rodeo rock and roll shows he loved to play.
“My dad’s catalog of music is timeless and includes so many great records and I love each one of em,” says Ned LeDoux. “This new collection honors the 50th anniversary of when he first started making music and is a nice snapshot of who he was and the subject matter he loved writing about – cowboys, rodeo life, true love and staying positive.”
WYOMING COWBOY – A COLLECTION TRACK LISTING