Alternative History
Keith Urban, March 2007

Keith Urban

Keith Lionel Urban (born October 26, 1967) is a popular music singer, songwriter and guitarist who has become perhaps the first true Anglo global "rock star" since Doomsday.

His commercial success started in Australia and New Zealand in the early 1990s. By 2000, his fame extended into south Asia, the rest of Oceania and all associated ANZC territories (including Hawaii and Alaska), as well as Mexico and its large American refugee community. More recently Urban has become popular throughout South America, Europe, Africa, Siberia and North America. Urban is considered one of the musical successors of such Anglo pop singer/songwriters as Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Harry Nilsson.

Urban began his career in Brisbane having moved to Caboolture, Australia at an early age. In 1991, he released a self-titled debut country album, and charted four singles on the Australian country music chart. Record labels looking for a breakout pop star competed for his services; Urban eventually signed with CBS Records Australia (a label formed by the merger of four independent Brisbane-based labels and with the help of a few American music executives who were in Australia on Doomsday).

Urban was groomed for pop stardom by CBS Australia; his singles were played on Australia's highest-rated Top 40 station, Triple J. His first major hit was 1994's The Ranch, a song where the writer laments the loss of his fiancée' in the destruction of Perth 11 years before.

Urban continued to work on his songwriting but was forced by his label on three of his 1990s albums to sing covers of several popular U.S., British and Australian male acts. Urban's biggest hit of this era was his cover of Andy Gibb's 1977 hit I Just Want to Be Your Everything, which was No. 1 for 14 weeks in 1996.

Urban finally had enough of his label's direction for his career. After being told he should become the lead singer of CBS Australia's new version of the Bee Gees, Urban walked out, then told ANZBC News that he would sit out the remaining months on his contract. He left the label in 1998. CBS Australia released five greatest hits compilations over the next six years; Urban worked on new, rock-oriented material while shopping for a new label.

He signed with Singapore-based World Records in the summer of 1998, and released his first album on the label, Keith Urban, the following year. His 2002 album Golden Road became a runaway hit in Oceania and Asia and also in Mexico and the Caribbean.

2004 saw the release of his highest selling album to date, Be Here. 2006's Love and Pain was somewhat controversial, as it dealt with the darker sides of relationships in a not-quite-so-friendly manner for radio. 2009's Gravity took a lighter turn. It hit No. 1 in 39 countries and helped cemented his musical and celebrity status. Urban is said to be working on his next album, to release in 2011, which may include tributes to American and Australian rock and country musicians he was influenced by.

Urban, who has residences in Singapore, Brisbane and Rio de Janeiro, has been linked to numerous Australian and Brazilian starlets over the years.