Neo-honky tonker Mark Chesnutt parlayed a solid grounding in classic country into chart-topping stardom during the '90s. Born in Beaumont, TX, in 1963, Chesnutt grew up listening to his father's extensive country-record collection (Bob Chesnutt had been a locally popular singer who never hit it big, and thus worked as a used-car salesman). Chesnutt learned both guitar and drums, and made his professional singing debut with his father's band at age 15 on the local club scene. He even dropped out of high school for a time to pursue music, but later reconsidered and got his diploma; meanwhile, his father began taking him to Nashville for recording sessions. During the '80s, Chesnutt released singles on local labels like the San Antonio-based Axbar (where he also issued a full album, Doing My Country Thing) and the Houston-based Cherry. He also served as the house headliner at the Beaumont club Cutter's, where his band often featured future star Tracy Byrd. After around a decade of dues-paying, positive word-of-mouth finally helped Chesnutt land a record deal with MCA.
Chesnutt's debut album, Too Cold at Home, was released in 1990, and the title track became his first hit, climbing into the country Top Five. With a style that blended George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Bob Wills, Chesnutt went on to score four more Top Ten hits from the album: the number one "Brother Jukebox," "Blame It on Texas," "Your Love Is a Miracle," and "Broken Promise Land." By the time that string ran out, Chesnutt had finished his follow-up, 1992's Longnecks & Short Stories. It gave him four more Top Five singles in "Bubba Shot the Jukebox" (one of Chesnutt's signature songs), "Old Flames Have New Names," the chart-topping "I'll Think of Something," and "Ol' Country." Chesnutt kept his hit-machine status going on 1993's Almost Goodbye, which gave him three more chart-toppers in the title track, "It Sure Is Monday," and "I Just Wanted You to Know." 1994's What a Way to Live offered the number one "Gonna Get a Life" and the number two "Goin' Through the Big D."