John Michael Montgomery Biography

20 January 1965, Danville, Kentucky, USA. Montgomery arrived on the country music scene in 1993 with a debut album, Life’s A Dance, that became the only million-seller on the country charts by a new artist that year. Its title track was a number 4 hit single and ‘I Love The Way You Love Me’ topped the Billboard country chart. The follow-up, Kickin’ It Up, hit the top spot on both the US Country and Adult Contemporary charts, and produced four more successful singles, the chart-topping ‘I Swear’, ‘Be My Baby Tonight’ and ‘If You Got Love’, and the number 4 single ‘Rope The Moon’. At this point Montgomery was one of the hottest artists in country music, appealing to lovers of both Garth Brooks and Lynyrd Skynyrd. He remained unchanged by his success, however, refusing to leave his Lexington home to go to Nashville. Instead he continued to enjoy traditional rock ‘n’ roll pursuits such as fishing and golfing.

Montgomery’s musical talent had been initially encouraged by his father, who performed in a local country band and taught his son his first chords. John Michael joined the family band as guitarist, before taking the lead singing role when his parents divorced. Afterwards, he made a frugal living on the local honky tonk scene as a solo artist playing what he referred to as ‘working man’s country’. Eventually, Atlantic Records signed him, although it was Montgomery himself rather than the record company who rejected his own material for inclusion on his debut (‘Mine just weren’t good enough’). There were problems during the recording, typified in an anecdote regarding a late-night call to the head of Atlantic that resulted in a change of producer. Atlantic’s faith in their artist was subsequently rewarded by Montgomery’s swift rise, even though some questioned his political correctness with songs such as ‘Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)’.

Montgomery’s third and fourth albums, 1995’s John Michael Montgomery and the following year’s What I Do The Best, though slightly disappointing sets, showed no signs of his commercial appeal waning. Further number 1 country hits followed with ‘I Can Love You Like That’ and ‘Sold’. It later transpired that Montgomery had throat surgery during this time. He was almost back to full health for 1998’s Leave A Mark, which, like the following year’s Home To You, saw Montgomery heading in an increasingly MOR direction. Following the release of 2000’s Brand New Me (featuring the number 1 hit ‘The Little Girl’), Montgomery switched to Warner Brothers Records after Atlantic Nashville was absorbed into the Warner corporation. His albums for Warners have reflected a more mature approach to life as the artist fast approaches middle-age. The patriotic ‘Letters From Home’ returned the artist to the country Top 10 in 2004 and also provided him with a rare crossover hit.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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