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.
Brandon Griffin Traiwick (born May 4, 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, Jones, and Lefty Frizzell. Randy began playing guitar at the age of eight, and thumb|300px|right|Randy Travis - I Told You Sowithin two years, he and his brother Ricky formed a duo called the Traiwick 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. At 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. thumb|300px|right|Randy Travis - Forever and Ever, Amen
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-fledgedd 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.
Travis collapsed onstage at Huguley Memorial Medical Center's 18th annual Crystal Heart Gala in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Burleson Star reports that Travis was in the middle of performing his song Three Wooden Crosses when he stopped singing, explaining that his vocal chords were "giving out" on him. He then stumbled sideways with his guitar, and pitched forward onto the stage.
The Star reports that several doctors attending the gala rushed to the stage to help. Travis rose about ten minutes later and walked offstage, giving a thumbs up to cheering fans.
According to The Houston Chronicle, the singer was at home and resting on Monday (September 27).
Travis' tour manager, Jeff Davis, told the Chronicle that the singer was not taken to Hospital.
"He is all right," Davis said. "He had a bad reaction to some allergy medicine he took earlier in the day; it had some decongestant in it. The doctors said a cup of coffee and the decongestant combined [to cause the collapse] and it was one of those weird things."
In February, reports emerged of Travis being arrested for public intoxication. The 52-year-old, who has since been released, apologized in a statement to The Associated Press "for what resulted following an evening of celebrating the Super Bowl" and also said he is "committed to being responsible and accountable."
On Monday, February 6, Just after midnight, an officer noticed a black, 1998 two-door Pontiac car parked in a lot near the First Baptist Church in the town of Sanger. The driver, Travis, told him that he and his girlfriend had had an argument and he was trying to get home, according to a police report obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com. The singer owns the Chrysalis Ranch outside Tioga, about 20 miles away.
The officer said he "detected an odor of alcohol" and "noticed an open bottle of wine in the passenger side of the vehicle."
"I asked the subject his name and he stated 'Randy Travis,' the officer said in the report. "Mr. Travis' speech was slurred and I was beginning to have a hard time understanding what he was saying."
The officer said he called for backup and asked the singer for a form of identification. Travis tried to produce some but was unable to find any, he said, adding that the singer kept asking for a ride home. The second officer than arrived.
"We had Mr. Travis step out of the vehicle and as he did, he stumbled as he tried to walk," the report stated. "I advised Mr. Travis he was being taken into custody for public intoxication. I placed handcuffed on him ... and placed him into the back seat of my patrol unit."
The singer was then arrested and taken to a local jail. He was released within hours
He is Brandon Griffin Traiwick, Country superstar Randy Travis is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his award-studded career with a stellar cast of collaborators.
Joining him on his Anniversary Celebration CD are such members of the Country Music Hall of Fame as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones and Ray Price. Current Nashville hit makers Zac Brown Band, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Josh Turner and Brad Paisley are also singing with him on the collection. Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame member Don Henley is on board, as are such up-and-comers as country’s James Otto and Jamey Johnson, pop’s Kristin Chenoweth and Irish tenor Eamonn McCrystal.
Randy’s fellow country superstar Alan Jackson has written several songs with him, so his presence is a natural. Revered vocal stylists such as Shelby Lynne, John Anderson, Gene Watson and Joe Stampley participate, as do Randy’s fellow Grand Ole Opry cast members Lorrie Morgan and Connie Smith.
The event that inspired this gathering of greats is singular and significant. The 1986 release of the Randy Travis LP Storms of Life was a watershed moment in American music history. The album, which has sold nearly four million copies, was a cornerstone of the “new traditionalist” movement in Nashville. Jackson, Paisley, Chesney, McGraw, Turner and Underwood were all inspired by it.
“It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 25 years,” Randy comments wistfully. “Time flies.
“Our conversation about this [anniversary] started a little over a year ago. It was between me and [Warner Music Nashville VP of A&R] Cris Lacy, [producer] Kyle Lehning and [manager] Lib Travis. We all talked about who we would like to have involved in the record. And we were all pretty much on the same page.
“Most of the people we called just said, ‘Yes. I’d be happy to. What do you want me to do?’ We told them we’d like to re-record some of the old stuff with guests and also find some new material. We said, ‘Y’all just do what you want to do.’ And it worked out just fine.
“It was all fun, to be honest with you. It’s one thing to listen to songs for yourself, but then when you’re listening and imagining this other voice singing with you, that’s another addition to the mix. But I approached this the way I always have. Years ago when we started working together, Kyle said, ‘At the end of the day, it’s you singing these songs. So if you don’t love them, don’t do them.’ I can honestly say that I have always followed that advice.”
It shows in the extraordinary repertoire that he brought to the Anniversary Celebration sessions. For his Josh Turner duet, Randy chose the rollicking, delightfully light hearted, rapid-fire tongue-tripper “T.I.M.E.” Kristin Chenoweth joins him on the lovely ballad “Love Looks Good on You.” Randy found the forceful mid-tempo rocker “Can’t Hurt a Man” for his collaboration with Tim McGraw. “Someone You Never Knew” is a ballad of regret with Eamonn McCrystal.
The lively, spirited “Everything and All” has a live-while-you-can message that both Randy and duet partner Brad Paisley sing with gusto. Randy readily approved of the funky, groove-soaked “Too Much,” which James Otto brought to him. The sublimely wistful “Didn’t We Shine” is perfect for Randy with his all-star grouping of George Jones, Lorrie Morgan, Ray Price, Connie Smith, Joe Stampley and Gene Watson.
Two of the set’s outstanding ballads are masterpieces of song craftsmanship. Randy is particularly proud of discovering the deeply moving “More Life” for his Don Henley collaboration. “Road to Surrender” is a hushed, soul-deep prayer that Randy brought to Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. Both songwriting masters recognized what a special lyric it possessed.
Kyle Lehning’s song-suggesting advice 25 years ago served Randy Travis well. The star is one of the few whose entire hit catalog has stood the test of time. His collaboration with Kenny Chesney on 1990’s “He Walked on Water” brings new luster to its heart-tugging lyric. Carrie Underwood revived Randy’s self-penned “I Told You So” in 2009, and on Anniversary Celebration she rips into an upbeat, western-swing flavored take on 1989’s “Is It Still Over” with him.
Zac Brown Band came up with a zippy new arrangement for 1987’s “Forever and Ever, Amen” for Randy to try, and the result is a highlight of the set. In 1990, Randy teamed up with George Jones on “A Few Ole Country Boys.” On the new remake, Randy sings George’s old lines, while Jamey Johnson takes Randy’s old part. The shimmering voice of Shelby Lynne joins Randy on a revival of his self-penned 1989 hit “Promises.” John Anderson joins Randy to remind us of the wry wit of 1986’s “Diggin’ Up Bones.” Randy and Alan Jackson co-wrote several songs together in the early 1990s. Two of them are revived in a honky-tonk duet medley on Anniversary Celebration -- “Better Class of Losers,” which Randy originally recorded solo, and “She’s Got the Rhythm,” which Alan originally recorded solo.
With lifetime sales in excess of 20 million, Randy Travis is one of the biggest country record sellers of all time. His honors include seven Grammy Awards, 10 Academy of Country Music statuettes, 10 American Music Awards, two People’s Choice awards, seven Music City News awards, eight Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association and five Country Music Association honors. In addition, three of his performances earned CMA Song of the Year honors, “On the Other Hand” (1986), “Forever and Ever Amen” (1987) and “Three Wooden Crosses” (2003).
To date, he has 18 No. 1 singles, 29 top-10 smashes and more than 40 appearances in feature films and television shows to his credit. Ten of his albums are Gold Records. Eight are Platinum. Two have gone Double Platinum. One is Triple Platinum and another is Quintuple Platinum. In 2004, Randy was honored with his own star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has been a member of the cast of the Grand Ole Opry since 1986.
Through it all, he has retained his humility, politeness and graciousness. His gentle dignity and low-key sense of humor have also remained with him.
“When I look at the group of people that are on this record, it’s very humbling,” says Randy Travis softly. “I’m very honored that they all agreed to do this, both the ones who did the remakes and the ones who sang new songs with me.
“I’m real happy with this album. I really am. The record business has changed a lot. But a good song is still a good song.”