In a genre that’s seen its share of overnight successes, it took Keith Urban more than a decade to become a platinum-seller. He hit that milestone in August 2003, when Golden Road — his second American release — sold its millionth copy, thanks in large part to the popularity of the record’s kickoff single, “Somebody Like You.” Later that year, Urban landed another platinum award with his self-titled debut, which had been released back in 1999. That honor arrived on December 15, 2003, 11 years ago today.
With American Idol getting ready to launch its newest season in January, it’s hard to picture a time when Urban wasn’t one of the most familiar faces in pop culture. When the now-superstar first moved to Nashville in 1992, though, he was a struggling songwriter and underrated guitarist whose success back home in Australia — where he’d released an album for EMI and appeared on INXS‘ concert record, Live Baby Live, as a backup singer — didn’t open many doors in the American south. He was seriously gawky, too, rocking a peroxide-blond mullet as seen in this performance from an Australian TV show in 1991.
Urban was still gap-toothed and ruffled-looking when he scored his first chart-topping single with 2000’s “But for the Grace of God,” proof that the guy began building his empire not on good looks, but on the strength of his material. Here, he performs an acoustic version of that song at the Bluebird Cafe, during the same year “But for the Grace of God” topped the charts.