Part of the '90s wave of honky tonk hitmakers that brought country to new commercial heights, John Michael Montgomery made his name primarily as a romantic balladeer. Yet despite his sometime adult contemporary leanings, his vocal style remained solidly grounded in country tradition. Montgomery was born in 1965 in Danville, KY, near Lexington and learned guitar from his father, a local musician. He first performed in public at age five with his father's band, which also featured his mother on drums. By 15, he was performing regularly on the local scene and at 17 became the lead singer of a group with his father and brother after his parents divorced. Following high school, he played around the local honky tonk circuit and was discovered at a favorite venue in Lexington, which led to a contract with Atlantic in 1991.