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Like the Beatles in rock, Randy Travis marks a generational shift in country music. When his Storms of Life came out in 1986, country music was still wallowing in the post-urban cowboy recession, chasing elusive crossover dreams. Travis brought the music back to its basics, sounding like nothing so much as a perfect blend of George Jones and Merle Haggard. He became the dominant male voice in country until the rise of "hat acts" like Garth Brooks and Clint Black, releasing seven consecutive number one singles during one stretch. He won the CMA's Horizon Award in 1986 and was the association's Male Vocalist of the Year in 1987 and 1988.
Travis (born Randy Bruce Traywick in 1959) was born and raised in North Carolina, in a small town outside of Charlotte. His father encouraged his children to pursue their musical inclinations, as he was a fan of honky tonkers like Hank Williams, George Jones, and Lefty Frizzell. Randy began playing guitar at the age of eight, and within two years, he and his brother Ricky formed a duo called the Traywick Brothers. The duo played in local clubs and talent contests. Both of the brothers had a wild streak, which resulted in Ricky going to jail after a car chase and Randy running away to Charlotte at the age of 16. While he was in Charlotte, he won a talent contest at Country City U.S.A., a bar owned by Lib Hatcher. Hatcher was impressed by Travis and offered him a regular gig at her bar, as well as a job as a cook.
For several years, he sang and worked at Country City. He still had trouble with the law in his late teens. After his last run-in with the police, the judge told him if he saw Travis again he should be prepared to go to jail for a long time. Travis was released into the care of Hatcher. In a short time, Hatcher became Travis' manager, and the pair began to concentrate on his career. Joe Stampley helped Travis land a contract with Paula Records in 1978. The following year, Travis released two singles under his given name; one of them, "She's My Woman," scraped the bottom of the country charts. In 1982, Travis and Hatcher moved to Nashville, where she managed the Nashville Palace nightclub while he sang and cooked. Within a couple of years, the pair independently released his debut album under the name Randy Ray; the record was called Randy Ray Live and sold primarily in the Nashville Palace.
Thanks to Hatcher's persistent efforts and the Randy Ray Live album, Warner Bros. signed Travis in 1985 and suggested that he change his performing name to Randy Travis. "On the Other Hand," his first single for the label, was released in the summer of that year and climbed to number 67. Despite its lackluster performance, radio programmers were enthusiastic for Travis, as evidenced by the number six placing of "1982," which was released late in the year. "1982" was followed by a re-release of "On the Other Hand" in the spring of 1986. This time, the song hit number one.
Storms of Life, Travis' full-fledged debut album, was released in the summer of 1986 and became a huge success, eventually selling over three million copies. Travis was the first country artist to go multi-platinum; before his success, most country artists had difficulty achieving gold status. With his mass appeal, he set the stage for country music's crossover success in the early '90s. However, Travis dominated the late '80s. The last two singles from Storms of Life, "Diggin' Up Bones" and "No Place Like Home," hit number one and two, respectively. "Forever and Ever, Amen" -- the first single from his second album, 1987's Always & Forever -- began a streak of seven straight number one singles that ran through 1989. Always & Forever was more successful than his debut, reaching number 19 on the pop charts and going quadruple platinum; it also earned him the CMA's award for Male Vocalist of the Year. Old 8x10 (1988) and No Holdin' Back (1989) weren't quite as successful as their predecessors, but they still spawned number one singles and both went platinum.
Travis was still at the top of his form in the beginning of the '90s, starting the decade with his biggest hit, "Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart." However, his hold at the top of the charts began to slip after Clint Black and, in particular, Garth Brooks. Nevertheless, Travis never fell away completely -- his albums continued to gold and he usually could crack the Top Ten. Wind in the Wire, a soundtrack to his television special released in 1992, marked his first unsuccessful album -- none of the singles broke the Top 40. This Is Me, released in 1994, was a successful comeback to the top of the charts, featuring "Whisper My Name," his first number one hit in two years. In August 1996, Travis released Full Circle, his last album for Warner Bros. He left the label in 1997, signing with the fledgling "super" label DreamWorks. His first album for the label, You and You Alone, was released in the spring of 1998; Man Ain't Made of Stone followed a year later.
Traveling the familiar country route, he released an album of traditional and contemporary religious songs, Inspirational Journey, which hit the stores in late 2000. The album went on to win two awards at the Gospel Music Association's 32nd Annual Dove Awards in 2001; Inspirational Journey took home honors for Country/Bluegrass Album of the Year and Country Recorded Song of the Year for "Baptism." Selected songs from the album also made their way into the two-part finale for Touched by an Angel, which featured Travis in character. Two years later, Travis continued with his gospel fare with the release of Rise and Shine, followed by the similarly reverent Worship & Faith, Passing Through, and Glory Train. Around the Bend appeared in 2008. In 2011, he released Anniversary Celebration, which featured Travis performing duets with Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Don Henley, Alan Jackson, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Carrie Underwood, and others, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his recording career.
Over the next couple years, Travis often appeared in the headlines as he battled a variety of personal problems and illnesses, recording a bunch of covers in 2012 that came out in 2013 and 2014 as Influence, Vol. 1: The Man I Am and Influence, Vol. 2: The Man I Am, respectively.
Travis' health took a serious turn for the worse on July 7, 2013 when he was admitted to a Dallas hospital for viral cardiomyopathy. On the 10th, Travis suffered a stroke. Five days later, he underwent successful brain surgery and afterward he entered physical therapy, but the stroke left him without the ability to speak or sing.
Randy Bruce Traywick (born May 4, 1959), known professionally as Randy Travis, is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actor. Since 1985, he has recorded 20 studio albums and charted more than 50 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, and 16 of these were number-one hits. Considered a pivotal figure in the history of country music, Travis broke through in the mid-1980s with the release of his album Storms of Life, which sold more than four million copies. The album established him as a major force in the Neotraditional country movement. Travis followed up his successful debut with a string of platinum and multi-platinum albums. He is known for his distinctive baritone vocals, delivered in a traditional style that has made him a country music star since the 1980s.
By the mid-1990s, Travis saw a decline in his chart success. In 1997, he left Warner Bros. Records for DreamWorks Records and changed his musical focus to gospel music. Although the career shift produced only one more number-one country hit "Three Wooden Crosses", Travis went on to earn several Dove Awards, including Country Album of the Year five times. In addition to his singing career, he pursued an acting career, appearing in numerous films and television series, including The Rainmaker (1997) with Matt Damon, Black Dog (1998) with Patrick Swayze, Texas Rangers (2001) with James Van Der Beek, and seven episodes of the Touched by an Angel television series.
Travis has sold over 25 million records, and has earned 22 number-one hits, six number-one albums, six Grammy Awards, six CMA Awards, nine ACM Awards, 10 AMA Awards, eight Dove Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Mansfield, Brian; Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Randy Travis Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-09-10. "Biography of Country Singer Randy Travis". Retrieved February 8, 2014. CMT "Randy Travis Awards". Retrieved September 18, 2011. Randy Travis "About Randy Travis". Retrieved September 18, 2011.
Randy Bruce Traywick was born on May 4, 1959 in Marshville, North Carolina, the second of six children of Bobbie (née Tucker), a textile factory worker, and Harold Traywick, a horse breeder, turkey farmer, substitute school teacher, and construction business owner. He is a descendant of Cornish immigrant Robarde Traweek, whose son Robert was born in 1700 in Stafford County, Virginia and died in 1788 in Onslow County, North Carolina, establishing the North Carolinian roots of the Traywick family.
Randy and his brother Ricky were encouraged to pursue their musical talents by their father, who was a fan of Hank Williams, George Jones, and Lefty Frizzell. In 1967, at the age of eight, Randy began playing guitar and sang in church as a boy. Two years later, he and his brother began performing at local clubs and talent contests, calling themselves the Traywick Brothers. Randy often fought with his father and soon dropped out of high school. He became a juvenile delinquent and was arrested for various offenses, including auto theft and burglary. Travis has since voiced regret for his past misdeeds.
In 1975, while his brother was serving time in jail for a high-speed car chase, Randy won a talent contest at a nightclub, Country City USA, in Charlotte, North Carolina. The club's owner, Elizabeth "Lib" Hatcher, took an interest in the young singer, hired him as a cook, and gave him regular singing jobs at the club. During the late 1970s, Randy worked and sang at Country City USA. Still in his late teens, Travis had one more encounter with the law. At his hearing, the judge told Travis that if he ever saw the singer back in his court, he should be prepared to go to jail for a long time. Travis was released into the guardianship of Hatcher, who also became his manager. The two began to focus on his career full-time.
In 1978, he recorded a self-titled album, Randy Traywick, for Paula Records. The following year, he released two unsuccessful singles, "She's My Woman" and "Dreamin'". Travis moved in with Hatcher, which put further strain on her already fragile marriage. She eventually left her husband and, in 1982, she and Travis moved to Nashville, Tennessee. It was during this time that an unlikely romance began to form between the two. Travis would later comment, "I think we discovered how much we needed each other." He and Hatcher eventually came forward with their relationship and were married in a private ceremony in 1991.Cite error: The named reference allmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Gregory, Andy (2002) International Who's Who in Popular Music 2002, Europa, ISBN 978-1-85743-161-2, p. 511 Randy Travis Biography (1959–). Miller, H.G. (October 1988), "Randy Travis: nice guy finishes first". Saturday Evening Post. 260 (7):60–91. "Little, Ross, and related families: VA – NC – AR". Users.hal-pc.org. Retrieved 2013-07-11. Gates, D. (October 22, 1990), "The voice of country music". Newsweek. 116 (17):70. "Blog Archive " Welcome to the Kids' New Home Online". The Kids of Widney High. Retrieved 2009-03-18. "The Aloha Cowboy". People. 42 (9):36. September 14, 1994.
During the early 1980s, Travis was rejected by every major record label in Nashville. His early demo tapes were criticized by record executives as being "too country." To support them, Hatcher took a job as manager of a nightclub, The Nashville Palace, and hired Travis as a cook and singer. In 1982, Travis recorded an independent album Live at the Nashville Palace, and Hatcher used the album to secure a deal with Warner Bros. Records. As part of the contract, label executives insisted they keep their romance a secret, and changed his stage name from Randy Ray to Randy Travis. In 1985, Warner Bros. Records released the single "On the Other Hand" which peaked at No. 67 on the country charts. His next single, "1982", became a Top 10 hit single. In 1986, Warner Bros. re-released "On the Other Hand", which became Travis' first number-one hit. He also covered some songs, e.g. of Randy Travis.
His debut album, Storms of Life, went on to sell more than four million copies. In the late 1980s he had a string of hits, including "No Place Like Home" and "Diggin' Up Bones". A song from his second Warner Brothers album Always and Forever titled "Forever and Ever, Amen" arguably launched the neo-traditionalist country era. For two years in a row, Travis won the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, for the albums Always & Forever in 1988, and for Old 8x10 in 1989. He also won the ACM award for Best Country Newcomer in 1986. Off the success of his first two albums, Old 8x10 was certified platinum, and Always and Forever was number-one for 43 weeks.
In 1991 Travis took part in Voices That Care, a multi-artist project that featured other top names in music for a one-off single to raise money for the allied troops in the Gulf War. The project included fellow singers Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers and Kathy Mattea. In addition, Travis recorded the patriotic song "Point of Light" in response to the Thousand points of light program initiated by President George H. W. Bush. Its release prompted New York freelance writer Lina Accurso to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission charging that the single qualified as political advertising since Bush media consultant Roger Ailes produced the song's video and White House publicist Sig Rogich was credited as a co-writer. The FEC rejected the complaint, ruling that the song and video "neither expressly advocate the election of, nor solicit contributions on behalf of, Mr. Bush."
In 1992, Travis took a break from music to concentrate on acting and landed roles in several Western-genre films. He returned to recording with the 1994 album This Is Me and the hit single "Whisper My Name". Three years later, Travis parted ways with Warner Brothers and signed with DreamWorks Nashville. He recorded You and You Alone, which produced the top 10 hits "Out of My Bones", "The Hole" and "Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man". After good friend George Jones died in April 2013 Travis recorded "Tonight I'm Playin' Possum," in Jones' memory.
After the 1999 release of A Man Ain't Made of Stone, Travis shifted away from mainstream country and focused on gospel. During this time, he recorded the albums Inspirational Journey (2000), Rise and Shine (2002), and Worship & Faith (2003). The single "Three Wooden Crosses" from the Rise and Shine album reached No. 1 and won the CMA song of the year in 2003. That same year, Travis ranked No. 13 on CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music. Additionally, he continued to act in film and television; he appeared in several episodes and in the series finale of Touched by an Angel. His album, Passing Through was released in November 2004 and included his song about mothers titled "Angels." It combined the country music of his earlier years with the gospel influences from his latest albums. After the release of Glory Train: Songs of Faith, Worship, and Praise in 2005 and the Christmas album Songs of the Season in 2007, Travis released his brand new single "Faith in You" as a free download from his official website. It heralded the July 2008 release of his album, Around the Bend, his first collection of mainly secular recordings in nearly a decade.
In February 2009, Travis' "I Told You So" was released as a single by Carrie Underwood, who had recorded the song for her 2007 album Carnival Ride. The next month, radio stations were sent a duet version of the song featuring Randy Travis on vocals. From that time on, he was credited with Underwood on the single, which peaked at No. 2 on the country charts and No. 9 on the U.S. Hot 100. That month, Travis released the two-disc greatest hits compilation I Told You So: The Ultimate Hits of Randy Travis. In June 2011, he unveiled his latest album, Anniversary Celebration. In September 2013, he released the album Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am.Cite error: The named reference nice was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference aloha was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference Gregory was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Weisberg, Jacob (October 14, 1991), "Miata culpa". New Republic. 205 (16):54. Bianco, Robert (April 25, 2003), "Critic's corner". USA Today.
Travis and Lib Hatcher divorced on October 29, 2010 after a 19-year marriage, and their business relationship ended thereafter. He married Mary Davis on March 21, 2015.
Legal issues in 2012
Travis was arrested in February 2012 when he was found in a parked car outside of a church in Sanger, Texas with an open bottle of wine and smelling of alcohol.
On August 7, 2012, state troopers in Grayson County, Texas responded to a call that an unclothed man was lying in the road. Troopers reported that they arrived to find Travis unclothed and smelling of alcohol. The Texas Highway Patrol said that Travis crashed his car in a construction zone, and that when they attempted to apprehend him, Travis threatened the lives of the troopers. Travis was subsequently arrested for driving while intoxicated and terroristic threat against a public servant. He posted bail in the amount of $21,500. Earlier in the same evening, just prior to the DUI arrest, Travis allegedly walked into a Tiger Mart convenience store naked, demanding cigarettes from the cashier, who in turn called the authorities. According to the store clerk, Travis left the store upon realizing he did not have any money to pay for the cigarettes.
On January 31, 2013, Travis pleaded guilty to his August 7 incident and received two years probation, a $2,000 fine and a 180-day suspended jail sentence.
Illness in 2013
On July 7, 2013, Travis was admitted to a Dallas area hospital for viral cardiomyopathy after a viral upper respiratory infection. His condition was classified as critical. Three days later, Travis suffered a stroke and had surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. On July 15, 2013, it was reported that Travis was awake and alert after undergoing brain surgery, that his heart was pumping without the assistance of machines, and that he was on the road to recovery. He was released from Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas on July 31, 2013, and entered a physical therapy facility. Following his stroke, and despite physical therapy, Travis has been unable to sing or speak and has difficulty walking, having to rely on a cane. As of November 2014, he is slowly recovering, and can walk short distances without assistance and is relearning how to write and play the guitar, according to his then-fiancée Mary Davis.Talbott, Chris (October 30, 2010). "Randy Travis & Wife-Manager DIVORCE". The Huffington Post. http://www.people.com/article/randy-travis-married-mary-davis-acms Moraski, Lauren (February 6, 2012). "Randy Travis arrested for public intoxication". CBS News. Retrieved 2013-07-09. Martinez, Michael; Arioto, David (August 8, 2012). "Country singer Randy Travis arrested, accused of DWI". CNN. Retrieved August 8, 2012. Michaels, Sean (August 9, 2012). "Randy Travis arrested after trying to buy cigarettes while naked". The Guardian. Nude Travis demanded smokes? JAM! Country. August 13, 2012. "Randy Travis pleads guilty in drunk driving case, gets probation". Fox News. Retrieved February 1, 2013. "Randy Travis in congestive heart failure, doctors say". Associated Press via Fox News. July 10, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Duke, Alan (July 9, 2013). "Randy Travis gets heart implant, still critical". CNN. Retrieved 2013-07-11. "Randy Travis suffers stroke, undergoes surgery". NBC Today. Retrieved July 11, 2013. "Doctors: Singer Randy Travis Awake After Stroke". Associated Press. July 15, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2013. "Country star Randy Travis released from hospital following stroke, heart attack". Fox News. Retrieved August 1, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2664553/Country-legend-Randy-Travis-left-unable-sing-speak-following-devastating-stroke-year-ago.html http://www.tmz.com/2014/06/21/randy-travis-stroke-speech-singing/ Whitaker, Sterling. "Randy Travis' Fiancee Updates His Recovery". Taste of Country. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
Honors and awards
Academy of Country Music Awards1985: Top New Male Vocalist1986: Album of the Year – Storms of Life1986: Single of the Year – "On the Other Hand"1986: Top Male Vocalist1987: Single of the Year – "Forever and Ever, Amen"1987: Song of the Year – "Forever and Ever, Amen"2003: Song of the Year – "Three Wooden Crosses"
American Music Awards1988: Favorite Country Album – Always & Forever1988: Favorite Country Male Artist1988: Favorite Country Single – "Forever and Ever, Amen"1989: Favorite Country Album – Always & Forever1989: Favorite Country Male Artist1989: Favorite Country Single – "I Told You So"1990: Favorite Country Album – Old 8x101990: Favorite Country Male Artist1990: Favorite Country Single – "Deeper Than the Holler"
Country Music Association Awards1986: Horizon Award1987: Album of the Year – Always & Forever1987: Male Vocalist of the Year1987: Single of the Year – "Forever and Ever, Amen"1988: Male Vocalist of the Year2003: Song of the Year – "Three Wooden Crosses"
Grammy Awards1988: Best Male Country Vocal Performance – "Always & Forever"1989: Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance – "Old 8x10"2004: Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album – Rise And Shine2005: Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album – Worship & Faith4007: Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album – Glory Train2010: Best Country Collaboration with vocals – "I Told You So" by Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis
GMA Dove Awards2001: Country Recorded Song of the Year – "Baptism"2001: Bluegrass Album of the Year – Inspirational Journey2003: Country Album of the Year – Rise And Shine2004: Country Recorded Song of the Year – "Three Wooden Crosses"2004: Country Album of the Year – Worship & Faith4006: Country Album of the Year – Glory Train2009: Country Album of the Year – Around the Bend