Boyd Tyrone "Ty" Herndon (born May 2, 1962) is an American country music singer. After signing to Epic Records in 1995, Herndon made his debut with his number one single, "What Mattered Most", followed by the release of his first album, also entitled What Mattered Most (1995). The album was followed by the release of his second album, Living in a Moment (1996), which produced his second number one country hit, with the album's title track.
Herndon released three more albums for Epic: Big Hopes (1998), Steam (1999), and This Is Ty Herndon: Greatest Hits (2000). He recorded a Christmas album in 2002 for the Riviera label, followed by his fifth studio album, Right About Now (2007) and a second Christmas compilation for the Titan Pyramid label; his sixth studio release, Journey On, followed in 2010.
Herndon has charted a total of 17 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. This figure includes three number ones: "What Mattered Most", "Living in a Moment" and "It Must Be Love", as well as four additional top ten hits: "I Want My Goodbye Back", "Loved Too Much", "A Man Holding On (To a Woman Letting Go)" and "Hands of a Working Man."
Boyd Tyrone Herndon was born in a Meridian, Mississippi hospital, but raised just across the state line in his parents' hometown of Butler, Alabama. He became involved in music as a teenager, playing the piano and singing Gospel music. Shortly after graduating from Austin High School in Decatur, Alabama, Herndon moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music. This did not prove to be easy, however, and after 10 years, he moved to Texas. Herndon was originally the lead vocalist of the Tennessee River Boys, a group that performed at the Opryland USA theme park in the early 1980s, which later evolved into the band Diamond Rio. He left the band in 1985 to compete on Star Search. In 1993, Herndon won Texas Entertainer of the Year. Later that year, Herndon was signed to Epic Records.
1995–96: What Mattered Most
Herndon made his chart debut in early 1995 with "What Mattered Most", which went to number one on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts. This song served as the title track to his debut album, which was released in April 1995 and became a top 10 country album. The song was added to the playlists of 133 stations on the Billboard survey in its first week, breaking a record set by Tracy Lawrence for the most additions to country playlists in one week. The album itself debuted at number 15 on Top Country Albums and number 1 on Top Heatseekers, the highest debut for a country artist since Billy Ray Cyrus' Some Gave All in 1992. In addition, it had the biggest first-week shipment in the history of Epic Records's Nashville division. The album included backing vocals from several artists on Epic or sister label Columbia Records, including Patty Loveless, Joe Diffie, Ron Wallace, and Blue Miller of the Gibson/Miller Band.
"I Want My Goodbye Back", the album's second single, peaked at number 7 on country. Its b-side, a duet with Stephanie Bentley titled "Heart Half Empty", peaked at number 21 in early 1996; follow-up "In Your Face" spent only two weeks on the charts and peaked at number 63. What Mattered Most was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of 500,000 copies. "Heart Half Empty" was later included on Bentley's 1996 debut album Hopechest, also released via Epic.
In June 1995, Herndon was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, at Gateway Park by an undercover male police officer who alleged that Herndon asked the officer to accompany him to a wooded area of the park where Herndon sat on a log and exposed himself. When taken into custody, he was also discovered to be in possession of methamphetamine. A plea bargain saw the singer sentenced to community service and drug rehabilitation, and the charge of indecent exposure was dropped.
Living in a Moment, Big Hopes and Steam
Herndon's second album, Living in a Moment debuted at No. 6 on the Top Country Albums charts. The album's leadoff single, which was its title track, also reached Number One on the country charts. His next three singles all reached their peaks in 1997: "She Wants to Be Wanted Again" (previously recorded by Western Flyer) at No. 21, "Loved Too Much" at No. 2, and "I Have to Surrender" at No. 17.
Big Hopes, his third album, followed in 1998. The leadoff single, "A Man Holdin' On (To a Woman Lettin' Go)", reached Top 5, while the follow-up single "It Must Be Love" (featuring backing vocals from Doug Virden and Drew Womack, then members of Sons of the Desert) gave Herndon his third and final No. 1. The third single, "Hands of a Working Man", becoming his last Top 5.
In 1999, his fourth studio album, Steam, was released. The first single, the title track, was a Top 20 hit but did not see the same success as Herndon's other lead singles from his first three albums. "No Mercy" was released next in 2000 and peaked at No. 26, while two more singles from the album both failed to make Top 40.
By 2000, Herndon was no longer being played on radio and by 2002 he had stopped touring. Thus began both a professional and personal downward slide that included a divorce from his second wife, bankruptcy, a weight gain of 75 pounds, a mugging in Los Angeles by three men at gunpoint, a lawsuit from a California dentist claiming that Herndon had not paid for emergency dental work and another lawsuit from a former manager for breach of contract. In 2004, he entered a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility for the second time.
Departure from Epic Records
In 2002, a new single titled "Heather's Wall" was released, peaking at No. 37 on the country charts. The song was produced by Paul Worley. Although it was his highest charting single since "No Mercy" in 2000, its poor chart performance forced Herndon and his record executives to shelve the newly recorded album for which "Heather's Wall" would have served as lead single. Instead, Herndon put out a Greatest Hits compilation titled This Is Ty Herndon: Greatest Hits. "A Few Short Years" was the only new track released from that album, and after it failed to enter Top 40, Herndon exited Epic's roster.
Herndon released a Christmas album, A Not So Silent Night, in 2002 through his fan club and official website. In 2003 the Christmas album was repackaged with additional content and released on the independent label Riviera/Liquid8 Records. Herndon was then signed to Titan Pyramid Records in 2006. On January 9, 2007, his album Right About Now was released — his first full studio album since 1999's Steam. Right About Now's title track was the first single released. However, both it and the followup, "Mighty Mighty Love" (previously recorded by Lila McCann), failed to reach the country charts. A second Christmas album followed later in 2007.
Herndon has raised money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, the Special Olympics and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. He has also been involved with equine therapy for children. Currently, he is a national spokesman for CVS pharmacy's ALS fundraising campaign. He was on hand to present the $4.5 million check from the 2011 campaign to the ALS Therapy Alliance at Fenway Park on September 1, 2011. He also sang the National Anthem before the Red Sox-Yankees game that day.
On June 8, 2010, Herndon released an album of self-penned Contemporary Christian songs called Journey On under the FUNL Music label. The music video for the title track documents the battle of former National Football League player Kevin Turner with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Herndon is finalizing a country music CD, tentatively titled, Love Wins. The first single, "Stones" from the new project has been released to radio and debuted as both the Number 1 download and Number 1 stream on PlayMPE on Nov. 3, 2011.
In 2010, Herndon received a Grammy award nomination in the Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album category for Journey On. The award went to Diamond Rio for The Reason. Herndon received a Dove award in 2010 for Best Bluegrass Recorded Song for When We Fly.
On October 22, 2013, Herndon released 10 songs with FUNL Music, Inc. The music is grouped as an album titled "Lies I Told Myself" and available on iTunes. The album peaked at #75 on the country music charts.
Following the incident in Fort Worth, his sexuality became a topic of interest within the country music industry. Although his rep denied it following his arrest, the speculation came to an end on November 20, 2014, in an interview with People magazine, Herndon came out as a gay man, and stated that he had been in a relationship for a few years with Matt Collum. When asked if his two ex-wives knew of his sexuality, Herndon confirmed that they "absolutely" knew.