Two decades have passed since Clay Walker's 1993 debut single “What's It to You” also became his first No. 1 hit, but he still remembers the moment he got the good news.
“Oh, yeah, you don't forget those moments. I was in Cincinnati, Ohio, doing a show ... and right in the middle of it, this radio guy walks out, and I still remember his name, his name's Tim Clausen, of WUEB-Cincinnati. He walked out and he made an announcement and he had an early copy of Billboard. He handed it to me and it said ‘Clay Walker, “What's It To You,” No. 1.'
“And it just absolutely floored me because we had been touring and everything had gotten crazy and I didn't even know what day of the week it was,” Walker said in a recent phone interview from the road in Washington state.
“It doesn't make me feel old. It actually makes me feel aware of how fast the time does go by. When I look back on it, I just try to think ‘what were the most significant moments,' and it's hard to define. Cumulatively, I can say that there hasn't been much that I haven't enjoyed about my career and that's a really good feeling.”
The Texas native's follow-up single, 1994's “Live Until I Die,” also topped the charts, and he eventually garnered six No. 1s, including “Dreaming with My Eyes Open,” “If I Could Make a Living,” “This Woman and This Man,” and “Rumor Has It”. Over the past 20 years he has recorded 10 albums, with his latest, 2010's “She Won't Be Lonely Long,” debuting at No. 5 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, earning largely positive reviews and scoring a Top 5 single with the title track.
Walker, 44, will bring his deep stable of hits Saturday night to the Oklahoma State Fair, where he will perform in Jim Norick Arena following the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Xtreme Bulls Tour action.
“I believe in music being a great way of celebrating and having a good time. You know, I'm very blessed in my life to have this kind of career. God has been great to me, and I believe in sharing that,” he said.
The singer also is celebrating his newfound freedom. After spending his entire career on various labels, Walker got his release from Curb Records back in March and is working as an independent artist for the first time.