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Lee Greenwood

Born with a good voice and a wide range, Lee Greenwood turned it into a unique voice accidentally, by overworking it in a less-than-healthy setting. Hailing from Sacramento, he used his musical training on the casino circuit, working in the green-felt jungles of Reno and Las Vegas, where he dealt cards by day and sang in dark lounges by night. The physical toll of two jobs, the vocal strain of performing six nights a week, and the damaging endeavor to sing in smoky nightclubs before the advent of smoking ordinances brought Greenwood a permanent hoarseness. He's used it to his advantage, becoming one of country music's premier balladeers. Discovered by Mel Tillis' road manager, Larry McFaden, Greenwood paid for his own ticket to fly to Nashville and cut a few demos, and it took more than a year for that effort to pay off. When it finally did, Greenwood broke through in late 1981 with "It Turns Me Inside Out," in which his exaggerated vibrato brought frequent comparisons to Kenny Rogers. In short order, Greenwood disposed of the "Kenny clone" image, but he continued to mine romantic material for the bulk of his hits. Occasional exceptions include "Touch and Go Crazy" and "Mornin' Ride," but the biggest exception is also his signature song, the self-written "God Bless the U.S.A.," which earned Song of the Year honors from the Country Music Association.

Growing up on a Sacramento farm, Greenwood was musical at a very early age, teaching himself how to play saxophone when he was nine years old. In his preadolescence, he played in a western dance band called My Moondreams. At the age of 13, he moved with his recently remarried mother to Anaheim, CA, but three years later he returned to Sacramento to live with his grandparents. Between the two moves, he played in a variety of country and Dixieland bands. Upon his return to Sacramento, Greenwood joined Chester Smith's band, which raised his profile within California. Soon, Del Reeves hired Greenwood to play saxophone, and while he was with the singer, Lee learned how to become a showman. In 1962, he formed his own band, a pop combo named Apollo, and the group moved to Las Vegas. Within five years, the group was renamed the Lee Greenwood Affair and relocated to Los Angeles, where they made a handful of records for Paramount. Once the record label went out of business, Greenwood was asked to join the fledgling Rascals by Felix Cavaliere and Dino Danelli, but he declined. Instead, he moved back to Las Vegas, where he worked as an arranger, backup vocalist, and lounge pianist, as well accompanied strippers by playing organ. By 1973, he became the lead singer and bassist in the Bare Touch of Vegas revue, while he continued to work as a blackjack dealer at the Tropicana. He held down both jobs for much of the mid-'70s.

By the end of the '70s, he was singing in lounges in Reno, which is where he met Larry McFaden, who was then leading Mel Tillis' touring band. Greenwood was initially reluctant to record, but he eventually travelled to Nashville, where he recorded a set of demos. Shortly afterward, McFaden became his manager and helped the singer sign a deal with MCA Records in June of 1981. Four months later, his first single, "It Turns Me Inside Out," climbed into the country Top 20. Greenwood's initial success was helped enormously by the similarity between his husky voice -- toughened up by years of working in smoky casinos -- and that of Kenny Rogers. In March of 1982, his second single, "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands," climbed into the Top Ten, beginning a streak of 19 Top Ten singles that ran virtually uninterrupted for the next six years. During that time, he racked up no less than seven number one hits: "Somebody's Gonna Love You" (1983), "Going, Going, Gone" (1984), "Dixie Road" (1985), "I Don't Mind the Thorns (If You're the Rose)" (1985), "Don't Underestimate My Love for You" (1986), "Hearts Aren't Made to Break (They're Made to Love)" (1986), and "Mornin' Ride" (1986). In addition to his solo hits, Greenwood had a number of hit duets with Barbara Mandrell, including the number three hit "To Me" (1984). None of Greenwood's music was close to pure country -- it was adult contemporary country-pop, in the vein of Rogers. Unlike Rogers, however, Greenwood rarely crossed over into the pop charts, and when he did, it was only in 1983, when slickly produced country-pop could make inroads on adult contemporary radio. His popularity was at its peak during the mid-'80s, when his conservative music and neo-conservative lyrics managed to capture the imagination of the nation; though "God Bless the U.S.A." only peaked at number seven on the country charts in 1984, it became a recurring theme song for several Republican political campaigns during the Reagan and Bush administrations. Furthermore, Greenwood won many popularity polls and awards from various country music magazines and associations.

Greenwood switched labels in 1990, signing to Capitol Records. His initial singles for the label, "Holdin' a Good Hand" and "We've Got It Made," were successful, but his audience steadily declined during the first half of the decade. Though he tried to retain his audience through patriotic work during the 1991 Gulf War -- even earning the Congressional Medal of Honor Society's Patriot Award and a Points of Light Foundation Award -- he couldn't successfully battle the onslaught of harder-edged, contemporary country artists that overtook country radio in the early '90s. By the middle of the decade, he was no longer charting singles, and he had begun re-recording his biggest hits for a variety of labels; he also continued to tour and give concerts. In 2000 he attempted a comeback with his new album, Same River...Different Bridge. ~ Tom Roland, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

HAPPY THANKS GIVING TO
ALLLLL
OUR TROOPS !! This Holliday !! Proud !!
Thank you Lee, for your song to our military, past, present and future..GOD BLESS AMERICA.. ...LOVE it or LEAVE it...
Thank you to all the Veterans
Yes you your
Hi
LOVE THIS ONE. Thanks LEE Greenwood
I love this and god bless the USA I like to stand up and solute for the solders that died and thought for the war
GOD BLESS THE USA !! AND MY COUSINS IN THE ARMY AND MARINES!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! HUA!! And OORAH!!!
I like god bless u.s.a
Bless the troops?
God bless America all over the world?
I love all of his songs
I'm Proud To Be American
God Bless America
I am surprised this song hasn't risen to offensive status...... . . . . S i n g it Lee!!
I'm Proud To Be American
God Bless America
God Bless Are Troops
I'm Proud To Be American God Bless The USA
I'm Proud To Be American
God Bless America
I'M PROUD TO BE AMERICA
God Bless the USA
I'm Proud To Be born in America
I'm Proud To live in America
I'm Proud To Be American
God Bless America
God Love this I Proud To Be American God Bless America America 4ever
Love this song
Love this song God Bless America I'm proud to be an American USA 4 ever God Bless America and cc everyone else
I love God bless the USA view bless all
vinnysnana20 0 2
Love this song and love Lee. So proud to be an AMERICAN
melanie879
So cool ;)
My dad was in the war! I love this song... sniff sniff.
God bless the soldiers over seas
It's not all that impressive to be listening to this at 14.. I was listening to this when I was five... All the way to current day
GOD BLESS THE U.S.A.!!!!!! ! ! ! ! Lee Greenwood is # 1. so awesome. luv
u guys
rebalparker
The song of God Bless The USA is in the white house.
I'm a 14 year old boy and I like this guys music he's just that good PSY got nothing on him
Too bad there are no thumbs up, thank you or God Bless bottons on here because I'd be pushing them all for Lee and you guys. DMB
lat1357
This song is the most amazing song. Any song about America is. God Bless this country and all who live in it. Thank you to all vets and troops who served and were any part of the military. I'm thinking about going in and everytime I think about me being a troop, I smile and feel proud and want to go in even more than I did before I thought of it. God Bless the USA.
As an Army Vet. I remember hearing God Bless the U.S.A. in Basic. It brings a tear to my eyes everytime I hear it. God Bless the U.S.A. and to all who have served this great nation.
a1983heartbe a t 1
Awesome voice and very gifted talent and entertainer worth every dollar to go see him in concert. And I agree the one whose birth certificate is fake should be voted out of office. He has ruined AMERICA. AND WE WANT IT BACK.
To all the vets WWII-the one now THANK YOU
What about credit for you are the wind beneath my wings'....on e of his best and the soundtrack from an equally great movie...Beac h e s .
nursebette61
love this man wish ever one in America Proud
he makes OBAMA a bad word YAHOO get OBAMA out
of the USA !!!!!!!!
I too served for 30 years, RVN with the 101st Airborne. Song gives chills everytime I hear it.
God Bless The USA; Red, White, and Blue! To all the troops who serve this country this is for you. Marciegrv@ao l . c o m (former 101st Airborne Div_)
makes my heart pound!
slapshot1894
What a great voice. He can send shivers down your spine!
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