Chris LeDoux was born Oct. 2, 1948, in Biloxi, Miss., and raised in Austin, Texas. His father was an Air Force pilot who was posted to various parts of the United States. His grandfather, who had served in the U.S. cavalry and fought against Pancho Villa, encouraged LeDoux to ride horses on his Wyoming farm. LeDoux attended high school in Cheyenne, Wyo., and while still at school, he twice won the state's bareback title. In 1967, after graduating, he won a rodeo scholarship and received a national title in his third year. In 1976, he became the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's (PRCA) world champion in bareback riding.
LeDoux has been playing guitar and harmonica and writing songs since his teens, and he used his musical ability as a means of paying his way from one rodeo to another. Since 1971, he has been recording songs about "real cowboys," and his albums combine his own compositions about rodeo life with old and new cowboy songs. He describes his music as "a combination of western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk and rodeo rock 'n' roll."
Charlie Daniels, Johnny Gimble and Janie Frickie are among the musicians who have appeared on his records, and Garth Brooks famously paid tribute to him in "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)." He and Brooks also teamed for the Top 10 hit, "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy," in 1992.
In October 2000, after being ill for some time, he underwent a liver transplant. In 2003, he released the album Horsepower and celebrated career sales of more than 5 million albums.
LeDoux, 56, died March 9, 2005, from complications of liver cancer.