Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
It's Your Love, Live Like You Were Dying, Just to See You Smile
Currently Known For:
Singer, Songwriter, and Actor
It's Your Love, Live Like You Were Dying, Just to See You Smile
“I went skydiving. I went rocky mountain climbing. I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu. And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying. And he said, ‘Somebody I hope you get the chance, to live you like you were dying.” One of the biggest names in country music over the last three decades, Tim McGraw knows a thing or two about success as a singer, songwriter, and actor who first launched his career in 1990. McGraw spent four years honing his talents as a performer before he caught a huge break with his 1994 album, Not a Moment Too Soon. The album launched him to the top of the music charts and ignited a career that hasn’t slowed down yet with 15 studio albums, 65 singles, 25 number one hits, and dozens of awards including 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, 10 American Music Awards, and three Grammy Awards.
Amid his incredible achievements as a singer and songwriter, McGraw has also proven his talents as an actor and is perhaps best known for his starring role opposite Sandra Bullock in the award-winning film The Blind Side (2009). His other credits include Friday Night Lights (2004), Flicka (2006) The Kingdom (2007), Four Christmases (2008), Country Strong (2010), Tomorrowland (2015), and The Shack (2017). Of course, he’s also well-known for his marriage to country superstar Faith Hill thanks to their many duets like “It’s Your Love” and their most recent Soul2Soul II Tour, which is one of the highest grossing tours in country music history. So, what’s the 51-year-old’s secret to his success and balancing his career with life at home as a husband and father? Let’s find out!
“I was so wrapped up in sports growing up as a kid, that I think I was going to grow up to be a pro ball player. But I found out really quick that was not going to happen.” Samuel Timothy McGraw came into this world on May 1, 1967, in Delhi, Louisiana after his mother, Betty, was waitressing in Florida when she met a young pitcher for the Jacksonville Suns named Tug McGraw. Betty and Tug lived in the same apartment complex and went on a handful of dates before Betty learned she was pregnant. Her parents soon found out and moved her to Louisiana to live with relatives where she gave birth to her son and fell in love with a truck driver named Horace Smith. As a result, the young McGraw believed Smith, an abusive drunk, was his father until the age of 11 when he found his birth certificate in his mother’s closet.
“My mom got the brunt of the abuse,” McGraw said of his life at home with Smith. “I got abuse too, because I wasn’t his. All he could see was somebody else’s kid—not to mention a baseball player’s kid and here he is, a truck driver in Louisiana. He was envious.”
After McGraw found his birth certificate, he begged his mother to contact Tug, who despite meeting his son in person, denied paternity and refused to pay child support. The following year, McGraw and his mother traveled back to Houston, Texas but Tug refused to see them. “He was warming up in the bullpen. I kept yelling at him, but he wouldn’t look at me,” McGraw recalled. “I didn’t see him again until I was 18.” McGraw finally broke the ice with his father and formed a close relationship that lasted until his father’s death from brain cancer in 2004 after a successful career as a star pitcher for the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Apart from his father’s absence and his step-father’s abuse, McGraw spent most of his time playing sports. Long before he knew of his father’s career, he dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player and won a baseball scholarship to Northeast Louisiana University. However, McGraw’s time on the field was cut short when a knee injury took him out of the game for good. Instead of sports, he picked up the guitar and often sang for money until he followed his mother back to Jacksonville, Florida where he enrolled at Florida Community College and played music in his spare time. Then, on May 9, 1989, McGraw’s life completely changed when his idol, Keith Whitley, died. McGraw dropped out of college and moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue music full time.
“I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. I try so hard, I can’t rise above it. Don’t know what it is ‘bout that little gal’s lovin’ but I like it, I love it, I want some more of it.” After a few months in Nashville, McGraw recorded a demo tape and gave it to his father to give to a friend of his at Curb Records. The executives were impressed with what they heard and invited McGraw to the office where they offered him a recording contract. McGraw released his first single, “What Room was the Holiday In” in March 1991 and was disappointed when the single failed to chart on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Although the single was terrible, a local radio station booked McGraw for an appearance because of his father’s fame. By then, McGraw was already working on his next three singles—“Welcome to the Club,” “Memory Lane,” and “Two Steppin’ Mind.”
Struggling to find his footing in Nashville, McGraw released his next album, Not a Moment Too Soon, in 1994 and finally caught a glimmer of hope when it became the best-selling country album of the year thanks to singles like “Indian Outlaw,” “Don’t Take the Girl,” and “Down on the Farm.” McGraw followed up with this third album, All I Want, in 1995 and enjoyed similar success with hits “I Like It I Love It” and “She Never Lets it Go to Her Heart.” The following year, his popularity skyrocketed as he embarked on the most successful country tour of 1996—The Spontaneous Combustion Tour—with country artist and his future wife, Faith Hill.
Having first met Hill behind the scenes at a Country Radio Seminar showcase at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville in March 1994, McGraw was with his girlfriend at the time and Hill was separated from her first husband but that didn’t stop the instant chemistry between the two. “For me, there was an intense physical attraction,” McGraw later said. “I guess my girlfriend saw it in my eyes because she said, ‘I don’t want you around her.’”
McGraw eventually broke up with his girlfriend and, by 1996, was ready to embark on his first major headlining tour when he invited Hill to join him. At the time, Hill was engaged to former producer Scott Hendricks but, within weeks, she broke off the engagement and started dating McGraw. By the third month of the tour, McGraw and Hill shared a duet on a stage and a passionate kiss as they sealed their fate as country music’s hottest new couple. Coincidentally, they bonded over their childhoods and pushed away any negative beliefs that two stars couldn’t create a lasting relationship. “I knew I had that instability and dysfunction in me from the way I grew up,” McGraw said. “And when I met Faith, I knew I needed her in my life—to keep me stable, solid, and on track.”
McGraw and Hill married on October 6, 1996, as both of their careers blossomed. McGraw released his fourth album, Everywhere, in 1997 and included singles like “Just to See You Smile” and “Where the Green Grass Grows” as well as “It’s Your Love,” a duet with Hill. The album was awarded the CMA Album of the Year Award in 1997 and “It’s Your Love” earned two Grammy Award nominations for Best Country Collaboration and Best Country Song. Following the album’s success, McGraw stepped back from the spotlight as Hill gave birth to their daughter, Gracie Katherine, in May 1997 and furthered her own career as a country and pop star before giving birth to their second daughter, Maggie Elizabeth, in August 1998.
With Hill and McGraw balancing their careers with their life at home, McGraw returned to the studio in 1999 to release A Place in the Sun. He released his Greatest Hits album in 2000 and followed up with Set This Circus Down in 2001 before he and Hill welcomed their youngest daughter, Audrey Caroline, into the world in December 2001. This time, Hill stepped away from the spotlight to focus on their daughters as McGraw came back stronger than ever in 2002 with Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors. The album was another massive success and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance thanks to singles like “She’s My Kind of Rain.”Having It All
“I live in a house with four women. Just shut up and say, ‘Yes ma’am.’” McGraw found ongoing success in the new millennium with albums like Live Like You Were Dying (2004), Let It Go (2007), Southern Voice (2009), Emotional Traffic (2012), Two Lanes of Freedom (2013), Sundown Heaven Town (2014), and Damn Country Music (2015). Amid his growing success as a singer and songwriter, he also proved his talents as an actor and made his first credited appearance on The Jeff Foxworthy Show in 1997. In 2004, he appeared in Black Cloud and earned critical praise for his performance in Friday Night Lights (2004), which grossed over $60 million at box offices around the world.
“I’m sticking my toes in to check it out a little bit,” McGraw said of his work on Friday Night Lights. “It’s fun. I’m enjoying doing it. It’s a role that, for me, I felt like I could step into and really take a hold of and connect with. I grew up seeing a lot of these kinds of guys growing up in Louisiana and playing high school sports, so it was interesting to me…”
McGraw landed his first starring role in the 2006 film Flicka and earned critical acclaim for his performance as well as for his work as executive producer for the soundtrack. A year later, he snagged a minor role in The Kingdom (2007) and made his way to late-night television with an appearance on Saturday Night Live (2008) before he joined Vince Vaughan in Four Christmases. While the film was a hit among audiences, it put McGraw’s life in perspective especially after he saw how bloated he was in the film. The culprit was a life of excess after he’d gone too far with alcohol and drugs, reaching his heaviest weight at 215 pounds. Hill recognized the problem and gave her husband an ultimatum: “Partying or having a family. Pick one, buddy.”
The choice was easy for McGraw who gave up partying, carbs, and sugar. He lost 40 pounds and returned stronger than ever in The Blind Side (2009) opposite Sandra Bullock. In 2010, he starred in Country Strong opposite Gwyneth Paltrow and followed up with Tomorrowland in 2015. Apart from his acting career, McGraw stays incredibly busy with his life at home with Hill and their daughters, not to mention their most recent return to the stage in the Soul2Soul World Tour, which sold out every venue and grossed over $79 million. Coincidentally, it also rekindled the couple’s passion for one another as well as their traditions. “We both have our daily routines and we have our own dressing rooms. We each have our own space to retreat to so we do get time to ourselves,” Hill said. “Tim and I also share a quick quiet moment together before hitting the stage. Always praying.”
For the 51-year-old McGraw, the chance to share the stage with Hill is another gift that, like his impressive career and his role as a father, he doesn’t take for granted. “It’s such a rare thing to be able to experience what we do for a living, and to do it together, really feels like all the moments are special.” With the success of the Soul2Soul World Tour, fans can only hope that country music’s hottest couple take the road again very soon!