How did Chris LeDoux die? A Tribute to the Legend Who Lived His Songs

How did Chris LeDoux die? A Tribute to the Legend Who Lived His Songs

Who was Chris LeDoux?

The late American country music singer-songwriter, rodeo champion and bronze sculptor Chris LeDoux, was born in Biloxi, Mississippi USA, on 2 October 1948, meaning that Libra was his zodiac sign. He released 36 albums which sold over six million copies in the US by the year 2007, with some of these were certified gold and platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

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Chris was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis in August 2000, and required a liver transplant; American country singer-songwriter Troyal Garth Brooks wanted to donate part of his liver, but the doctors found that the two men’s livers were incompatible. An alternative donor was found, and the transplantation surgery was performed on 7 October 2000. Chris was diagnosed with cancer in November 2004, and died from it aged 56 on 9 March 2005.

Education and early life

Chris was raised in Biloxi alongside his brother Mike LeDoux, by their father Alfred H. LeDoux and mother Bonnie. Alfred was of French descent and served in the US Air Force, and was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base when Chris was born; Bonnie was a housewife.

The family often moved while Chris was growing up, because of his father’s job, and it was when visiting his grandparents in Wyoming that Chris learned to ride horses; he was only 13 when he competed in his first rodeo, and not long after that began winning competitions.

He was mostly into playing football and competing in rodeo events during his high school years; after the family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming Chris enrolled at Cheyenne Central High School, and during his time there won the Wyoming State Rodeo Championship twice, and was thus offered a scholarship to Casper College.

Chris matriculated in 1967 and enrolled at Eastern New Mexico University, thus not accepting the Casper College scholarship; during his first year there, he became the Intercollegiate National bareback riding champion.

Chris graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1970.

Professional rodeo cowboy

Chris became a professional rodeo cowboy in 1970, and began writing songs and composing music only to pay for his expenses; it took him two years to write all the songs necessary for the release of an album, and he then teamed up with his father to launch his own recording company, American Cowboy Songs. He recorded the songs in his friend’s basement, and sold them from his pickup truck at rodeo events.

He became the National Finals Rodeo World Bareback Riding Champion in 1976, and continued competing until his retirement in 1980.

Career as a singer-songwriter

Thanks to his career as a professional rodeo cowboy, Chris easily found an audience for his music. He began performing at concerts, and these often featured a mechanical bull; he self-released 22 albums by the end of the ‘80s, selling over two million copies.

He was occasionally offered to sign a recording contract, but refused as he wanted to maintain his independence; Chris became popular all around the US when above mentioned country singer-songwriter Garth Brooks mentioned him in his 1989 debut single “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”.

Chris then changed his mind and signed a contract with Capitol Records, and in 1991 released his debut major label album “Western Underground”; his second album “Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy” was more popular, released on 20 July of the following year, and certified gold by RIAA. The album’s self-titled lead single was nominated for a 1992 Grammy for Best Country Vocal Collaboration (shared with Garth). The remainder of the ‘90s saw Chris release six more albums, with the most popular amongst these “One Road Man” featured on the Country Top 40 Chart in 1998.

The year 2000 saw him release another popular album “Cowboy”, while he then focused on re-recording his previous songs; his album “20 Greatest Hits” was certified platinum by RIAA on 5 October 2005.

Love life and marriage

Chris didn’t usually speak about his love life in public, as he preferred to keep his wife and their five children away from media. His wife was American non-celebrity  Peggy Rhoads, a daughter of a Wyoming rancher; they met in the same year when Chris became a professional rodeo cowboy, and married on 4 January 1972. Peggy gave birth to their children Beau, Cindy, Will, Ned and Clay, but they always preferred to keep them away from the media’s attention, thus not many details about them have been disclosed, however, it’s known that Ned LeDoux was born on 4 August 1977, as he’s followed in his father’s footsteps and has become a country music singer-songwriter.

Chris didn’t talk about other women whom he had maybe been with, he was married to Peggy Rhoads at the time of his death, and they had five children together.

Interesting facts and hobbies

Chris was posthumously inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2005, into both the ‘contributions to the sport through music’ and ‘bareback riding’ categories, becoming the first person to be inducted into two categories.

Garth Brooks accepted the Academy of Country Music Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award on Chris’ behalf in 2005; he also returned from retirement to release the song “Good Ride Cowboy” as a tribute to Chris.

Chris was passionate about sculpting and mostly created sculptures for his friends; following his death, his friends made an art exhibit at which Chris’ work was shown.

A bronze statue of Chris was revealed at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2021; it was created by Buffalo sculptor D. Michael Thomas.

Chris was a huge fan of American actor and moviemaker Clint Eastwood, and some of his favorite movies were “Joe Kidd”, “The Dead Pool”, and “Kelly’s Heroes”.

Height, eyes and wealth

Chris would’ve been 74 today. He had brown eyes and hair, was 6ft 2ins (1.88m) tall and weighed around 180lbs (81kgs).

At the time of his passing, Chris’ net worth was estimated at over $5 million.

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