Neal McCoy was born Hubert Neal McGaughey Jr. in Jacksonville, Tex., on July 30, 1958, to a father of Irish descent and a Filipino mother. His voice developed into a rich baritone, and he first put it to professional use in an R&B band. Soon, he moved to country music, playing bars and clubs all over Texas. In 1981, he won a talent contest that was attended by Janie Fricke, and she helped him land a slot on tour as Charley Pride's opening act. He spent six years in that capacity.
He finally left to pursue his own recording career in 1988, when he released his debut single, "That's How Much I Love You," under the name Neal McGoy (the pronunciation of his birth name). Modifying it to the more common McCoy, he released his debut album, At This Moment, on Atlantic in 1990. Despite McCoy's growing reputation for exciting, freewheeling live shows, neither it nor the follow-up, 1992'sWhere Forever Begins, sold well.
However, McCoy's fortunes took a turn for the better with his third album, 1994's No Doubt About It. Both the title track and "Wink" topped the country charts for multiple weeks, and the album sold more than a million copies. In the next few years, he returned to the Top 5 six times, but his hits slowed by the end of the decade. Yet, he remains a popular draw in concert, and has been highly praised as an entertainer.
In 2005, he released That's Life on 903 Music, a label he co-founded, and reached the Top 20 with "Billy's Got His Beer Goggles On."