Urban and his family move from Whangarei, New Zealand, to the Australian farming town of Caboolture, which he will later refer to as his hometown. As a kid, he develops a passion for music and at 15, drops out of school to pursue his career.
After scoring four No. 1 country singles in Australia in 1991, Urban moves to Nashville, Tenn. "I know I would be a little fish in a big sea, but that's the appeal," he tells Australia's Sunday Mail. While there, Urban struggles for years and develops a cocaine addiction. "I remember crawling around on my hands and knees, looking for these little rocks at 5 in the morning, and I was drenched in sweat. It was the worst," he tells USA Weekend. In 1998, he checks into Cumberland Heights, a treatment center in Nashville.
Finally getting himself together, Urban releases his first U.S. solo album, the self-titled Keith Urban. He writes three and cowrites six of the album's 12 songs, including "But for the Grace of God," which hits No. 1 on the American country charts in early 2001.
Urban bares it all for Playgirl magazine, posing nude with only a strategically placed guitar over his crotch. The Today show calls him a "country hottie," and reporter Jill Rappaport tells him he's the "male version of Faith Hill." Urban responds, "I hope my girlfriend doesn't look like [Hill's husband] Tim McGraw."
Eating dinner with girlfriend Laura Sigler at Nashville's Café OneTwoThree, Urban has a man stand outside with a sign reading "Will you marry me?" She accepts, but the pair never makes it to the altar, splitting the following year.
With the release of his second album, Golden Road, Urban establishes himself as a bona fide star in Nashville. The record hits No. 11 on the overall Billboard charts and gives him three No. 1 country singles ("Somebody Like You," "Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me?" and "You'll Think of Me").
Urban crosses over to mainstream audiences with Be Here, which peaks at No. 3 on the Billboard albums chart. Twelve years after landing in Nashville, Urban launches his first headlining tour. Of the tour, he tells PEOPLE, "We're on buses versus crammed into a van, and people are showing up versus not showing up. And they know your songs!"
Minutes after performing his chart-topping single "Days Go By," Urban wins Male Vocalist of the Year at the Country Music Awards in Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House. "I am so dumbfounded, I don't know what to say," he tells the crowd. "I am so glad my mom and dad are here tonight. I thank Nashville for letting me come and make music because it's all I ever wanted to do." He'll win the award for the next two years as well as Entertainer of the Year in 2005.
In L.A. for a dinner honoring famous Australians, Urban meets actress Nicole Kidman. The pair are first spotted spending time together in July, and Kidman becomes a mainstay on his Urban's Alive in '05 tour. By November Kidman is spotted wearing a sparkling ring on her finger as the two – who won't comment on the relationship – prepare to host Thanksgiving at his Nashville home with both sets of parents in attendance.
Sitting in the front row with Kidman at the Grammy Awards – their first major event as a couple – Urban wins the Grammy for Best Male Vocal Country Performance for "You'll Think of Me."
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