Keith Urban

updated 11/15/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/15/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

AGE: 37
HOMETOWN: Caboolture, Australia
LATEST GIG: The Nashville hunk from Down Under

•Here and now: The former farm boy scored the top spots on the country album (Be Here) and singles ("Days Go By") charts and just launched his first headlining tour. Compared to being the opening act, "we're on buses versus crammed into a van, and people are showing up versus not showing up," he says. "And they know your songs!"

•Forget the ten-gallon hats: The singer-guitarist, who's up for Male Vocalist of the Year at the Nov. 9 Country Music Association Awards, sports a rocker style that's more Bon Jovi than McGraw. "I think Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash had a rock-star style," he says. As for his four tattoos—"love," a thunderbird, an eagle and "Love conquers all" in Latin—"they are little sign-posts along the way," he says.

•The country boy from Oz: As a kid he learned to play the ukulele—and to milk the family's cows ("I wasn't very good at it"). In 1992 he moved to Nashville, where his accent sometimes caused a stir. "At meet-and-greets, I'd shock the little kids," he says. "A 4-year-old would hear me talk and say, 'Oh my God! He's a Wiggle!' "

•Grease groupie: Until recently linked to model Niki Taylor, 29, the single Urban, who is buying a home in Nashville, was smitten after meeting the last Aussie to top the country charts—Olivia Newton-John. "She was as sweet as she could be," he says. "I just wanted to keep breaking out singing, 'Sandy'!"

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