The son of an Air Force major, LeDoux lived in France, New York, Texas and Pennsylvania before moving to Cheyenne, Wyo. He developed an interest in rodeo in his teens and was soon roping calves and riding bulls, saddle broncs and bareback broncs.
In high school, LeDoux twice won the state title for bareback riding. He received a rodeo scholarship after graduation and won the national title in his third year of competition. In 1976, LeDoux was named the world bareback champion by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
LeDoux’s other passion was music. He taught himself to play the guitar and harmonica, and used his talents to pay his way from one rodeo to another. The singer/songwriter once described his music as a “combination of western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk and rodeo rock ‘n’ roll.” Each song he performed offered an autobiographical look at life on the rodeo circuit, the experiences of modern cowboys and the love he felt for his family.
LeDoux independently released 22 albums — mostly cassettes he sold at concerts and rodeos from the back of his pick-up truck. But his music found a wider audience in 1989 when Garth Brooks mentioned his name in the hit song, “Much Too Young (To Be This Damn Old).”
LeDoux signed a recording contract with Capitol Records Nashville in 1990. Two years later, he and Brooks joined forces on the song “Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy,” which became a top 10 hit and was nominated for a Grammy Award. LeDoux sold more than 6 million albums during his singing career. He was best known for the songs “Hooked on an 8 Second Ride,” “Copenhagen,” “This Cowboy’s Hat,” “Even Cowboys Like a Little Rock and Roll,” “Riding for a Fall” and “Honky Tonk World.”
LeDoux was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame in 2003. His life was chronicled in the biography, “Gold Buckle Dreams – The Rodeo Life of Chris LeDoux,” by David G. Brown. A week after his death, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal declared July 30, 2005 as “Chris LeDoux Day.”