Happy birthday, Lyle Lovett! The singer-songwriter was born 63 years ago today (Nov. 1) in Klein, Texas.
Lovett was born to William and Bonnie Lovett; his father was a marketing executive, while his mother was a training specialist. He grew up on a farm and experienced an idyllic childhood, which Lovett says fostered his creativity.
“Every afternoon, I was in the pasture with cattle or fishing and shooting my BB gun,” the artist recalls to Southern Living. “That kind of freedom allows imagination to develop.”
After completing high school, Lovett went to Texas A&M University and graduated with a dual degree in German and journalism in 1980. But it was his friendship with a fellow aspiring songwriter, Robert Earl Keen, that helped him find his true calling in music.
“The house where Robert lived was the coolest place to be,” Lovett remembers. “I used to ride my bike past it and hear people playing music; finally, I got brave enough to ask to park there. Robert was so gracious about kids hanging out at the house — it was not unusual for him to check in to a hotel to study during finals week rather than run people off.”
Lovett carved out a niche for himself in the Lone Star State, playing clubs and other venues, but it wasn’t until he released his self-titled debut album in 1986 that he earned an entirely new level of fame, all across the country. After the record’s debut, Lovett appeared on the hit TV show Hee Haw and performed with several notable artists, including with Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, John Denver and John Mellencamp, among others, during the third annual Farm Aid in 1987.
Lovett released his sophomore album, Pontiac, in 1988, followed by Lyle Lovett and His Large Band in 1989; both were certified gold. From 1986 to 1988, he scored seven Top 40 hits, including the Top 10 single “Cowboy Man.” Lyle Lovett and His Band also won him the first of four Grammy Awards, for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male.
The tunesmith, who was briefly married to movie star Julia Roberts in 1993, has also had a successful career as an actor. He has appeared in more than a dozen movies and TV shows, including the Oscar-nominated film Short Cuts.
Lovett has enjoyed an illustrious career and is credited with helping create the explosive Texas music scene, but he insists that that isn’t how he measures his success.
“When someone tells me what he or she was doing the first time they heard a song of mine, then I’ve done a good job,” he says. “If my song becomes about your life, then I’m successful.”
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