Since 1971, he has recorded songs about real cowboys, and his albums combine his own experiences about rodeo life with old and new cowboy songs. A large and dedicated group of followers formed on the rodeo circuit. This is when he made a name for himself with songs like "Lean, Mean and Hungry", "Ten Seconds In The Saddle", and "Caballo Diablo". In 1976, he became the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's (PRCA) world champion in bareback riding.
In 1989, Garth Brooks gave Chris's career a boost by mentioning his name in the hit, "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)". Chris hit the Top 20 a year later with "Cadillac Ranch", followed by successes Haywire, Stampede, and One Road Man. 20 Greatest Hits has 11 songs from his earlier albums. He once described his music as a combination of western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk, and rodeo rock 'n' roll.
After becoming ill in October 2000, he underwent a liver transplant. Coming back in 2003, he released the album Horsepower and celebrated career sales of more than 5 million albums. In 2004, Chris was diagnosed with liver cancer. Despite undergoing radiation treatment, he passed away on March 9th, 2005.
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