Began singing as a kid with his dad's Crownsmen gospel quartet.
Attended Georgetown College on a baseball scholarship, but quit to form a bar band called Sly Dog.
Big break came in 1992 with the hit "Achy Breaky Heart," which was a line lifted from George Jones' 1962 song "Aching, Breaking Heart"; it spawned a national line-dance craze and was named the Country Music Association's Single of the Year.
Debut album Some Gave All spent 17 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart, the most for any debut album.
In 1995, became the first recipient of the Bob Hope Congressional Medal of Honor Society Entertainer's Award for his support of Vietnam veterans.