Samuel Timothy McGraw was born in Delhi, LA, on May 1, 1967. Though he didn’t know it until years later, his father was baseball player Tug McGraw, a star relief pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets who’d had a brief affair with McGraw’s mother. He was raised mostly in the small town of Start, LA, near Monroe, and grew up listening to a variety of music: country, pop, rock, and R&B. He attended Northeast Louisiana University on a baseball scholarship, studying sports medicine, and it was only then that he started playing guitar to accompany his singing. He played the local club circuit and dropped out of school in 1989, heading to Nashville on the same day his hero Keith Whitley passed away. He sang in Nashville clubs for a couple of years and landed a deal with Curb in 1992. His debut single, the minor hit “Welcome to the Club,” was released later that year, and his self-titled debut album appeared in 1993 but failed to even make the charts.
McGraw’s fortunes changed with the lead single from his 1994 sophomore effort, Not a Moment Too Soon. “Indian Outlaw” was embraced as a light-hearted, old-fashioned novelty song by fans but was heavily criticized for what some regarded as patronizing caricatures of Native Americans. Despite some radio stations’ refusal to air the song, it reached the country Top Ten and even crossed over to the pop Top 20. All the publicity helped send McGraw’s next single, the ballad “Don’t Take the Girl,” all the way to the top of the country charts; it too made the pop Top 20. The album kept spinning off hits: “Down on the Farm” hit number two, the title track went to number one in 1995, and the novelty tune “Refried Dreams” also reached the Top Five. Not a Moment Too Soon was a genuine blockbuster hit, eventually selling over five million copies and topping both the country and pop album charts; it was also the best-selling country album of the year.
For the follow-up album, McGraw defied country convention by entering the studio not with session musicians, but with his road band, the Dancehall Doctors, a unit that had been together since 1996 (with some members around even before that). Tim McGraw was released in late 2002 and produced Top Ten hits in “Red Rag Top” and “She’s My Kind of Rain”; it also featured a startlingly faithful cover of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” McGraw kept the formula the same on 2004’s chart-topping Live Like You Were Dying, utilizing his road band, as well as co-mixing/producing the record himself. Let It Go followed in 2007, with Southern Voice arriving in 2009. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide
CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR THE NASCAR FAN
Birthdays for Wednesday, 11/18/09
Graham Parker 59/singer-guitarist, “Local Girls”
Kim Wilde 49/singer, “Kids in America”
Kirk Hammett 47/guitarist, Metallica
And the late:
Johnny Mercer–1909-1976/singer, founder of Capitol Records
Hank Ballard–1927-2003/singer-songwriter, wrote “The Twist”
Brenda Vaccaro 70/actress with the deep voice, Midnight Cowboy
Linda Evans 67/actress, TV’s Dynasty, Yanni’s ex-girlfriend
Jameson Parker 62/actor, TV’s Simon & Simon
Kevin Nealon 56/comedian, former Saturday Night Live cast member
Owen Wilson 41/actor, Wedding Crashers, Cars, Luke’s brother
Peta Wilson 39/actress, TV’s La Femme Nikita
DEEP-FRIED TURDUCKEN MAKES ME WANT TO SING
Blake Shelton was born on June 18, 1976, in Ada, Okla. He wrote songs as a teenager and honed his performing style as he played honky-tonk bars and became a regular on a local country music show.
At 17, Shelton met songwriter Mae Boren Axton (“Heartbreak Hotel”). She had returned to her Oklahoma roots for a tribute show honoring her in Ada. Shelton was part of the entertainment lineup and Axton told him to move to Nashville if he wanted a successful country music singing career. Two weeks out of high school in 1994, he packed his guitar and headed there.
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