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Tony Wade Hayes (born April 20, 1969 in Bethel Acres, Oklahoma) is an American country music artist. Signed to Columbia Records in 1994, he made his debut that year with his gold-certified album Old Enough to Know Better. Its title track, which served as his debut single, reached Number One on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts, and three more singles from it all reached Top Ten as well.
Hayes' second album, 1996's On a Good Night, was also certified gold, although its No. 2-peaking title track was the only Top 40 hit from it. When the Wrong One Loves You Right, his third album, produced two more singles, including the No. 5 "The Day That She Left Tulsa (In a Chevy)", although he left the label by 1999. A year later, he signed to the Monument roster, where he released Highways & Heartaches. This album produced no Top 40 country hits, however.
In 2003, he founded the duo McHayes with Alan Jackson's fiddle player Mark McClurg. The duo charted one single on the country charts and recorded one unreleased album for the Universal South label, "Lessons in Lonely." He joined the backing band for former Alabama lead singer Randy Owen in the late 2000s, and self-released Place to Turn Around in 2009.
In December 2011, Wade was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. Shortly after learning of his illness, he wrote the song "Is It Already Time," a ballad about his battle with the disease. He has been in remission since June 2012.
Wade Hayes was born and raised in Bethel Acres, Oklahoma. His father, Don Hayes, also a professional country musician, inspired him to begin playing music as well. Initially, Hayes had learned to play mandolin, but later switched to guitar after his father bought him one. When he was eleven years old, his family moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where his father signed him to an independent record label. The label soon declared bankruptcy. The family returned to Oklahoma, where Wade later found work as a musician in his father's band.
Although he attended three different colleges, Hayes dropped out of college in 1991 in pursuit of a career in country music, after seeing bluegrass musician Ricky Skaggs perform on the 1991 Country Music Association awards show. Wade returned to Nashville, where he began recording demo tapes and writing his own material. Eventually, Hayes partnered with a songwriter named Chick Rains, who recommended him to Don Cook, a record producer who has produced albums for several country music artists, including Brooks & Dunn.
1994-1996: Old Enough to Know Better:
With Cook's help, Hayes was signed to a record deal with Columbia Records in late 1994. The same year, Hayes' debut single, "Old Enough to Know Better", was released, and by early 1995, it peaked at Number One on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts. The single was followed by the release of Hayes' debut album, also titled Old Enough to Know Better, which produced three additional Top Ten singles on the country music charts: "I'm Still Dancin' with You", "Don't Stop" and "What I Meant to Say", at No. 4, No. 10 and No. 5 respectively. It was also certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipping 500,000 copies. Also in 1995, Hayes was nominated for Top New Male Vocalist of the Year by the Country Music Association.
1996-1997: On a Good Night:
On a Good Night, Hayes' second album, was released via Columbia in 1996. Although the album's lead-off single (which was the title track) peaked at No. 2 on the country charts, the second and third singles -- "Where Do I Go to Start All Over" and "It's over My Head" -- both failed to make Top 40. Nonetheless, the album was certified gold as well. Also included on this album was a cover of "Undo the Right", a song originally recorded by Willie Nelson.
1997-1999: When the Wrong One Loves You Right:
In 1997, Hayes also issued a cover of Glen Campbell's song "Wichita Lineman" as the first single for a third album which was to have been titled Tore Up from the Floor Up. This cover failed to reach Top 40, however, and the album was delayed. It was followed with "The Day That She Left Tulsa (In a Chevy)", which reached No. 5 on the country charts. After this song's release, Hayes's third album -- by then re-titled When the Wrong One Loves You Right -- was issued, with the Glen Campbell cover omitted. "The Day That She Left Tulsa" was followed by "When the Wrong One Loves You Right", "How Do You Sleep at Night" (his final Top 40 hit at No. 13), and finally, "Tore Up from the Floor Up". Hayes considered When the Wrong One Loves You Right as a more mature effort than his first two albums, with more of an emphasis on ballads than his previous two albums.
2000-2001: Highways & Heartaches:
By 2000, Hayes had switched from Columbia Records to Monument Records. His fourth and final album before his nine-year hiatus, titled Highways & Heartaches, was released in 2000. Three singles were released from the album before Hayes left Monument.
2001-2004: Duo formation and hiatus:
In 2003, Hayes joined fiddler Mark McClurg to form the duo McHayes, which charted one single ("It Doesn't Mean I Don't Love You", which reached No. 41 on the country charts) and recorded one unreleased album for Universal South Records. After McHayes disbanded in July 2004, McClurg rejoined Jackson's road band, and Hayes went on hiatus.
2008-2009: Return to music and Place to Turn Around:
He rejoined the music business in 2008, taking a role as lead guitarist and singer in former Alabama lead singer Randy Owen's road band. Hayes also returned to touring on his own. Hayes released a fifth album, Place to Turn Around, in July 2009, on an independent label. The album features eleven songs, with ten being penned by Hayes.
In 2012, Hayes released the single "Is It Already Time" through RPM Entertainment.
On April 4, 1999, Hayes married former Miss USA runner-up Danni Boatwright, who appeared in the video for Hayes' single "Tore Up from the Floor Up". She also appeared in Hayes' video for the song "Up North Down South, Back East, Out West." The couple divorced in 2003. Boatwright later was a contestant on the CBS reality television series Survivor.
In December 2011, Hayes was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, which was successfully operated on that same month. The last tumors were removed in March 2012.