Country Artist Chris LeDoux Dead At 56

Singer Dies At Casper Hospital

Country singer and former world champion bareback bronc rider Chris LeDoux has died of cancer.

Country music star Chris LeDoux died of cancer in Wyoming.

Capital Records in Nashville initially said that LeDoux, 56, died at his ranch in Kaycee, Wyo. However the company later said that LeDoux died Wednesday morning at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, Wyo.

LeDoux had checked into the hospital earlier in the week following complications from ongoing treatment for cancer of the bile duct and was with family and friends at the time of his death.

"All of us at Capitol Records and EMI Music are saddened at the passing of Chris," said Capitol Nashville President and CEO Mike Dungan.

"In a world of egos and soundalikes, he was a unique artist and a wonderful man. We have always been proud to represent his music, and honored to call him our friend. Our thoughts go out to his wife Peggy and the LeDoux family."

Fans were calling Denver radio station KYGO Wednesday afternoon to comment on his passing.

LeDoux, known little outside the rodeo circle until country superstar Garth Brooks paid tribute to him in a song, described his music as a combination of "Western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk and rodeo rock 'n' roll."

He and Brooks teamed up for the Top 10 hit, "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy," in 1992.

In November, LeDoux canceled several tour dates, including an appearance at the National Finals Rodeo, while undergoing treatment for cholangiocarcinoma, or cancer of the bile duct. He had undergone a liver transplant in 2000 after a lengthy illness.

LeDoux was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, and raised in Austin, Texas.

His grandfather encouraged LeDoux to ride horses on his Wyoming farm, and the LeDoux family eventually moved there. He graduated from high school in Cheyenne and twice won the state's high school bareback title.

In 1976, he became the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's world bareback champion. went on to become the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion in bareback riding in 1976.

By 1989, LeDoux had released 22 albums. They were mostly cassettes produced by his parents, which he sold at concerts and rodeos. He had a loyal, if limited, fan base.

That year, Brooks had a hit with "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)," which included the line: "A worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze/seem to be the only friends I've left at all."

The song came at a time when LeDoux's career was sputtering with an independent label and no marketing.

"And here he comes along and mentions the worn-out tapes in his song," LeDoux said of Brooks in an interview with The Associated Press in 2001. "To me, Garth, he's kind of like my guardian angel. It's like every time I need some help, he's there."

LeDoux eventually signed with Brooks' record label, Capitol.

In 2003, he released the album "Horsepower" and celebrated career sales of more than 5 million albums.