Born on May 1, 1967, in Delhi, LA; raised in Start, LA; son of Tug McGraw (a professional baseball player) and Betty Trimble; married Faith Hill (a singer), 1996; children: Gracie, Maggie, Audrey. Education: Attended Northeast Louisiana University, 1986-89. Addresses: Record company--Curb Records, 47 Music Square E., Nashville, TN 37203. Website--Tim McGraw Official Website: http://www.timmcgraw.com.
As the lyrics from one of country artist Tim McGraw's number one singles says, "I like it, I love it, I want some more of it." The catchy refrain summarizes the feelings many of McGraw's fans have towards his music. The popularity of what Entertainment Weekly' s James Hunter dubbed a "grassroots superstar" pushed McGraw's second album, Not a Moment Too Soon, up the charts to become not only the bestselling country album of 1994, but the sixth bestselling album of the year, according to Billboard. Although the release would also earn McGraw the ire of several Native American groups by including the "very un-PC" dance single "Indian Outlaw," the tenor rode out that controversy and has gone on to achieve even greater popularity among young country music fans--all without the help of what Hunter terms "wraparound grooming, marketing, and spin that routinely accompanies major-label careers." Subsequent album releases, including All I Want, Everywhere, Place in the Sun, Set This Circus Down, and Tim McGraw & the Dancehall Doctors, and McGraw's marriage to country-pop superstar Faith Hill have only increased his fame and record sales, which had reached 30 million albums sold worldwide as of 2004. McGraw had also scored more than 20 number one hits and garnered two Grammy Awards by 2005.
The son of professional baseball player Tug McGraw, a pitcher for both the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies during his 20-year career, Tim McGraw was born on May 1, 1967, in Delhi, Louisiana. Raised in rural Start, Louisiana, by his mother, Betty Trimble (who never married Tim's father), young McGraw would finally meet his father for the first time when he was eleven years old. Apart from singing in his church choir and listening to the radio, McGraw, like most of his friends, showed more interest in collecting baseball cards than learning guitar licks. After graduating from high school with honors, he enrolled in the pre-law program at Northeast Louisiana University, receiving much-needed financial assistance from the father who had once abandoned him.
Began Singing in the Mid-1980s
It was in college that McGraw's focus began to shift; by his junior year he had bought a guitar, strummed a few chords, and finally discovered where his true interests lay. He left for Nashville in 1989, where he knew he'd get an education in country music. Two years of singing in a bar in Printers Alley gained McGraw enough experience and exposure for Curb Records to take a chance on him. They signed the vocalist in 1990 and released his self-titled debut album three years later. "It almost seemed too easy," McGraw recalled to Van Rose in Country Song Roundup. "But I found out later just how tough the music business is. It took me a long time to get a hit record."
McGraw made a moderate showing on the country music charts with singles like "Welcome to the Club," "Memory Lane," and "Two-Steppin' Mind." But it would take the singer's second album, 1994's Not a Moment Too Soon, to make McGraw a recognizable name among the throngs of "New Country" artists crowding the coveted country radio waves.
Offended Native Americans with Song
Not a Moment Too Soon jumped to number one on both the country and pop charts during its first week of release, helped not a little by the controversy surrounding its number-one debut single, "Indian Outlaw," a novelty song penned by friend Tommy Barnes. While its lyrics outraged the membership of several Native American groups throughout the Southwest with stereotypical references to wigwams and tomahawks--Wilma P. Mankiller, chief of the Cherokee Nation, referred to the song as "extremely offensive" in an article in People--"Indian Outlaw" inspired a new dance craze among country listeners.
The sentimental ballad "Don't Take the Girl"--which was quickly released to radio as the album's second single, in order to take some of the heat off "Indian Outlaw"--would also reach number one, giving McGraw enough popular appeal to earn honors for best new country vocalist from the Academy of Country Music, Billboard, and the American Music Awards. Not a Moment Too Soon lived up to its name, gaining triple-platinum status within six months of its release and making McGraw the first country artist in over ten years to earn two gold records within three months of each other.
"After 'Indian Outlaw,' I wasn't taken as seriously as I wanted to be," McGraw told Hunter. "It never feels good when somebody writes off what you do as a whim or a fad. The reaction challenged me to prove that I was serious about being an artist." All I Want, which was released in 1995, was his attempt to do just that. Going to platinum on the aftershock of Not a Moment Too Soon, All I Want received only mixed reviews from critics, who questioned whether or not the young artist was perhaps a "one-hit wonder."
While repeatedly praised for the expressive single "All I Want Is a Life," a middle-class lament on an ever-declining standard of living, "the songs, with few exceptions, are safe, radio-friendly, and emotionally undemanding," commented reviewer Bob Allen in Country Music, adding, "Too frequently their only substance lies in their souped-up arrangements and McGraw's pleasant, journeyman singing." However, fans responded with a much more positive reaction; the lighthearted, sing-along tune "I Like It, I Love It" bounded up the charts, helping All I Want post sales of two million copies by the end of 1995.
Broadened Musical Interests
Amid the success of his fast-tracking country music career, McGraw has remained surprisingly realistic. With a positive attitude that helped him to weather the aftermath of his lukewarm debut effort, the artist has accepted both the glamour of the music business as well as its inherent responsibilities. "The more I am in this business, the more I realize that ninety percent of what we do is having the guts to get up there and do it," he explained to Country Song Roundup contributor Valerie Hansen. "I'm not that much more talented than anybody else. There are people out there working at 7-11 stores that can sing circles around me. I just try to do the best that I can do, and hope that that's good enough for a majority of the people." In 1995 McGraw started his own management company, Breakfast Table Management, and was helping co-produce a debut album for country star Jody Messina.
McGraw released Everywhere in 1997, which featured wife Faith Hill, whom he married in 1996, as a guest vocalist on the single "It's Your Love." "I think it's a beautiful song.... She made the record as far as I'm concerned," McGraw told Billboard. The song was an enormous hit, spending six weeks at number one on the country charts and becoming the most played single since Billboard began monitoring airplay. The album was also a huge success, earning multiplatinum sales certification.
Debuting at number one on both the Billboard pop and country charts, Place in the Sun followed in 1999. The album had four singles--"Please Remember Me," "Something Like That," "My Best Friend," and "My Next Thirty Years"--hit number one. According to Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide, the album was better than Everywhere and "sounds good and has a number of highlights," but said that the "music in the same vein as his previous efforts" and had "nearly the same ratio of hits to misses."
In 2000, McGraw and country singer Kenny Chesney were involved in a scuffle with the Mounted Reserve police in Orchard Park, New York, at the George Strait Chevy Truck County Music Festival. McGraw allegedly challenged police officers when they tried to remove Chesney from a horse belonging to one of the Reserve officers; McGraw contended in a statement that Chesney had permission to ride the horse. McGraw was charged with second-degree assault, obstructing governmental administration, menacing and resisting arrest, and Chesney was charged with disorderly conduct. Both singers were acquitted.
McGraw continued his string of successful album releases with a multiplatinum-selling greatest hits compilation in 2000, the multiplatinum Set This Circus Down in 2001, and Tim McGraw & the Dancehall Doctors in 2002. On Set, said Deborah Evans of Billboard, McGraw "wraps his affecting country-boy vocals around a stellar collection of songs." Highlights included the single "Angry All the Time," on which Hill again provided vocals, "Grown Men Don't Cry," "Telluride," "Unbroken," and "Angel Boy." McGraw told Evans about the album: "I wanted to make a real Americana kind of record, something that felt grass roots, [with] a lot of different kinds of music.... I just wanted to make a record that was me and my influences." Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors marked a turn from what Sara Brady of America's Intelligence Wire called Set This Circus Down's "balance between soulful, melting ballads and rocking anthems," to a more melancholy feel. Like "Indian Outlaw," one of the album's singles, "Red Ragtop," about a teenage love affair, a tryst in a convertible, and an abortion, stirred controversy. But Brady felt the track was one of McGraw's "most honest and elemental performances on the album." Mark Satrang of America's Intelligence Wire said about Dancehall Doctors: "It is missing maybe a true, fast-paced, high-energy song, but on the flip side, the real syrupy ballads are also kept to a minimum. It's a great blend of sounds...."
When not busy recording, performing, or spending time with his wife and three children, McGraw also works with a number of charities, including Swampstock, which has raised money for a little league baseball park, equipment, and a scholarship for students in northeast Louisiana. He also contributed to a benefit fund for the families of sailors killed in the USS Cole bombing in 2000. In 2002-03, McGraw was a member of the Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet, donating proceeds from his tour back to the cities he played in.
In 2004, McGraw gave his fans another venue in which to watch him perform--the silver screen. McGraw played an alcoholic father and ex-jock in the movie Friday Night Lights, a story about a heroic high school football team from Texas. The movie also starred Billy Bob Thornton. "I didn't know if he could act," director Peter Berg told Time, "but what we were looking for was somebody who would just seem real to an audience. And Tim does that. You look at him, you believe what he has to say." McGraw has said he has an interest in Hollywood, but nonetheless signed on to do a remake of My Friend Flicka in 2005.
McGraw also released another album, Live Like You Were Dying, in the fall of 2004. The title track--"Live Like You Were Dying"--was a tribute to his father, baseball pitcher Tug McGraw, who died in early 2004. The lyrics describe a man, 40-ish, who learns he is about to die and how he bides his time: "I went skydiving/I went Rocky Mountain climbing/I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Foo Man Chu," McGraw sings. "Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying." The title track spent eight weeks at number one, leaving no doubt that McGraw is far from fading away from the country scene. Live Like You Were Dying sold 2,786,840 copies in 2004, making it the sixth-selling album of the year. It also nabbed the singer two Grammy Awards in 2005, one for best male country performance and another for best country song.
Whenever McGraw appeared onstage during the 2004 presidential election campaign, he urged fans to get out and vote. Some day, he wants them to vote for him. "I want to run for the Senate from Tennessee," he told Time magazine's Josh Tyrangiel. "Not now, but when I'm 50, when music dies down a little bit. I know lots of artists and actors have those delusions of grandeur, but ever since I was a kid, it's been of interest to me."
In the dozen years that have passed since the release of his debut album in 1993, McGraw has sold more than 30 million albums and landed more than 20 number one hits. He even snagged a 2005 People's Choice Award for favorite male country artist. Speaking to Newsweek, McGraw noted how happy he was with his career, despite the ups and downs. "I like it better than any job I've ever had," McGraw said. "It beats roofing for a living, that's for sure."
by Pamela Shelton
Tim McGraw's Career
Began performing in Nashville clubs, 1989; signed with Curb Records, 1990; released debut album, Tim McGraw, 1993; released first number one single, "Indian Outlaw," 1994; released All I Want, 1995; Everywhere, 1997; Place in the Sun, 1999; Greatest Hits compilation, 2000; Set This Circus Down, 2001; Tim McGraw & the Dancehall Doctors, 2002; and Live Like You Were Dying, 2004.
Tim McGraw's Awards
Academy of Country Music, Top New Male Vocalist, 1994, Single of the Year, Song of the Year, Video of the Year, Top Vocal Event, 1998, Male Vocalist, Vocal Collaboration, 1999, Male Vocalist, 2000, Best Single, for Live Like You Were Dying, 2005; American Music Awards, Best New Country Artist, 1994, Favorite New Country Artist, 1995, Favorite Male Country Artist, 2001, Best Country Album, Favorite Male Country Artist, 2002, Favorite Male Country Artist, 2003; Billboard Awards, Best New Artist, 1994, Single of the Year, 1997; Country Music Association Awards, Album of the Year, 1998, Male Vocalist, Album of The Year, 1999, Male Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist, 2000, Country Artist, Male Country Artist, Country Albums Artist, Country Album, Country Single Artist, Entertainer of the Year, all 2001, Song of the Year and Single of the Year, 2004; BMI Country Awards, Robert J. Burton Award for most-performed song of the year, 2005; Country Radio Music Award, Best New Country Artist, 1994; Country Music Television Award, Most Inspiring Video of the Year for Live Like You Were Dying, 2005; Grammy Award, Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (with Faith Hill), 2001, Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song for Live Like You Were Dying, 2005; Country Music Television Flameworthy Video Music Award for Hottest Video of the Year, 2002, Flameworthy Award for Hottest Male/Fashion Plate, 2003; and People's Choice Awards, Favorite Male Musical Performer, 2004, and Favorite Male Country Artist, 2005.
- Selected discography
- Tim McGraw , Curb, 1993.
- Not a Moment Too Soon , Curb, 1994.
- All I Want , Curb, 1995.
- Everywhere , Curb, 1997.
- Place in the Sun , Curb, 1999.
- Greatest Hits , Curb, 2000.
- Set This Circus Down , Curb, 2001.
- Tim McGraw & the Dancehall Doctors , Curb, 2002.
- Live Like You Were Dying , Curb, 2004.
February 8, 2006: McGraw shared the Grammy Award for best country collaboration with vocals, for "Like We Never Loved at All," with Faith Hill. Source: Grammy.com, http://grammy.com/GRAMMY_Awards/Annual_Show/48_nominees.aspx, February 9, 2006.
- Barnard, Russell J., and others, editors, The Comprehensive Country Music Encyclopedia, Times Books, 1994.
- American Intelligence Wire, January 1, 2003; January 2, 2003.
- Billboard, March 19, 1994, p. 38; August 19, 1995; April 7, 2001; October 12, 2002.
- Country Music, July/August 1994; July/August 1995, pp. 16-17; January/February 1996, p. 18.
- Country Song Roundup, December 1995, pp. 22-25; June 1996, p. 40.
- Detroit Free Press, May 20, 1994.
- Entertainment Weekly, November 10, 1995.
- Hollywood Reporter,, October 19, 2005.
- Newsweek, August 23, 2004.
- People, April 25, 1994; December 9, 2002.
- Time, September 20, 2004.
- CNN.com, www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/Music/05/18/music.countryawards.list.ap/index.html (May 19, 2005).
- Country Music Television, www.cmt.com/shows/events/cmt_music_awards/2005/ (April 15, 2005).
- Hollywood Reporter, www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/film/brief_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000864329 (April 1, 2005).
- Grammys.com, www.grammys.com/awards/grammy/47winners (February 14, 2005).
- "Tim McGraw," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (April 30, 2003).
- Tim McGraw Official Website, http://www.timmcgraw.com (January 18, 2005).
- 38th Annual CMA Awards, www.cmaawards.com (November 9, 2004).
- Additional information for this profile was provided by FORCE, Nashville, TN.