Über Tim McGraw
For a while there in the early 1990s, Tim McGraw and Garth Brooks were running neck and neck up the country music charts and it looked like Brooks was in the lead, but a slew of multi-platinum albums and undeniable good looks don't lie. Rather, they solidified McGraw as the most popular male country star of the '90s (especially with the lady fans who made him into somewhat of a heartthrob). Of course, it also helped that McGraw was a relentless touring machine, and his marriage to mega-star country diva Faith Hill didn't hurt. And baseball fans favored McGraw on account of his being the son of famous major league southpaw pitcher Tug McGraw (former player for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies). Tim McGraw's polished new traditional sound is rooted in old school, boot-scootin' honky-tonk and some of the catchier sides of southern rock from the '80s that, when mixed with the former, would help innovate the new traditional sound altogether. And if his early ballads sound influenced by the late, great Keith Whitley, it's because McGraw idolized him while growing up. McGraw found his own sound (and first real chart topper) with 1994's playfully twangy "Indian Outlaw," but not without some controversy surrounding the allegedly politically incorrect depiction of Native American stereotypes in the lyrics. But as they say, no press is bad press and "Indian Outlaw" crossed over to the pop charts, setting the tone for McGraw's snowballing success. In 1996, he toured his third albumAll I Want with opener Faith Hill and by the end of the jaunt, the two were hitched and fetching all kinds of Johnny and June Carter Cash comparisons. McGraw and Hill's first duet, the romantic, heart-string pulling "It's Your Love," came out in 1997 with the kind of affectionate aplomb that propelled McGraw (and Hill) to red carpeted, crossover superstardom.