Although born in New Zealand and raised in nearby Australia, Keith Urban made his biggest splash in Nashville, where he helped rewrite the rules of contemporary country music.
By embracing drum loops and elements of Top 40 pop, Urban wrote songs that appealed to a wide audience, effectively satisfying his Nashville fans without alienating those more accustomed to pop music. He also became a genuine celebrity, known for his good looks, marriage to Nicole Kidman, and outspoken battle with alcoholism. Even so, it was the music that maintained Urban’s career, from his work with the Ranch during the late ’90s to the acclaimed solo albums that followed.
Keith Urban began learning guitar as a six-year-old. His father, the owner of a local convenience store, agreed to hang a guitar teacher’s flyer in his shop window in exchange for free lessons. The lessons went to his son, who demonstrated natural talent on the instrument and won several talent competitions while still in elementary school. Urban grew comfortable on-stage, and he worked on his singing and acting abilities as a member of the Westfield Super Juniors, a local theater company. Meanwhile, he took a cue from his father (who had a deep interest in American culture and country music) by gravitating toward the work of Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Don Williams, and Jimmy Webb, all of whom inspired his early attempts at songwriting. Urban added his own dimension to those influences when he discovered Dire Straits and became interested in the fretwork of Mark Knopfler, which led to in-depth study of Knopfler’s technique.
Australian country music was primed for a revolution at the start of the ’90s, and Keith Urban — young, brash, and blonde, with a guitar style that owed heavily to rock & roll — was part of that transformation. After signing with the Australian branch of EMI Records, he issued his first album and scored several number one hits in his home country. Even so, Urban’s sights remained on Nashville, TN, which he considered to be the birthplace of the music he loved. Having already taken trips to Nashville to forge career bridges, he soon decided to base himself in the city. His Australian bandmate, drummer Peter Clarke, also came along, and the two formed the Ranch during their first few months in America. Although their original bass player returned to Australia, West Virginian Jerry Flowers quickly stepped in.
[Source Maton Guitars Australia]