Remember When Tim McGraw Released His Debut Album?
Tim McGraw was just another young, hungry Nashville newcomer when he released his debut album on April 20, 1993 — and he stayed that way for another year afterward, watching his first project sink without leaving much of a trace.
McGraw had only been in Nashville for four years by the time he released the self-titled Tim McGraw album. He moved to town in 1989, on the same day that Keith Whitley died, and he signed a label deal with Curb Records the following year after his famous father, baseball great Tug McGraw, gave a label executive his demo.
Curb released McGraw's debut single, the forgettable "What Room Was the Holiday In," in 1991, and it failed to chart despite his famous connection.
"[McGraw] was promoting his first single, 'What Room Was the Holiday In,' and it was just a terrible song," former WXTU program director John Hart recalled to Today (quote via The Boot). "He was a scared little kid, but a good-looking kid. The only reason I booked him was so we could say we were having Tug McGraw's son on."
Three subsequent singles also tanked at radio, with "Welcome to the Club" giving McGraw his closest call to any real success by reaching No. 47. "Memory Lane" stalled at No. 60, and "Two Steppin' Mind" fizzled at No. 71, while Tim McGraw failed to chart at all.
Though the project was a commercial disappointment, there were some bright spots. Joe Diffie co-wrote two of the songs ("Memory Lane" and "Tears in the Rain"), and the album featured contributions from some of Nashville's top-shelf studio musicians, including Brent Rowan on electric guitar, Glen Worf on bass, James Stroud on drums and Kirk "Jelly Roll" Johnson on harmonica.
The album also began McGraw's relationship with producer Byron Gallimore, who would go on to produce many of McGraw's biggest career hits.
McGraw wouldn't have to wait too much longer for his big break. His sophomore album, 1994's Not a Moment Too Soon, gave him five back-to-back Top 10 hits, including two No. 1 hits in "Don't Take the Girl" and the title song. The album reached No. 1 and went on to earn 6X Platinum certification, and it won the ACM Award for Album of the Year in 1994, launching McGraw on a trajectory as one of the biggest country artists of his generation.