In the middle of the 1980s, Randy Travis grew into a major new voice in country music by helping the Music City remember its storied past. When almost everyone pursued the pop-oriented sound of the Urban Cowboy craze, Randy’s songs – featuring his sincere vocal style and lyrics that everyone could relate to – helped kick off the New Traditionalist movement.
Eventually, he became one of his era’s most reliable hitmakers – releasing several country chart-toppers and winning multiple awards.
Let’s learn more about the country star with this set of interesting facts!
1. He changed his name in honor of his favorite artist.
Born on May 4, 1959, as Randy Bruce Traywick in a small town outside Charlotte, North Carolina, the country singer changed his real name and adopted the stage name “Randy Ray” in the early days of his career. However, in honor of his favorite artist, Merle Travis, who died two years before he rose to fame – he went by the moniker “Randy Travis.”
2. He’s the second of six children.
Randy has five siblings to a mother who worked as a textile factory worker and a father who owned a construction business while working as a turkey farmer, horse breeder, and substitute school teacher.
3. He pursued music at a young age.
We actually have his father to thank for the wonderful set of Randy Travis’ songs.
Randy’s father was a big fan of country legends Hank Williams and George Jones that he encouraged his sons to pursue their musical talents. So, when Randy was only eight years old, he was already playing the guitar and would often sing in his Church of Christ choir.
4. He started a duo with his brother.
When Randy was ten years old, he and his brother, Ricky, started performing at local clubs and would often join talent contests. They called themselves the Traywick Brothers.
5. He spent his youth fighting against authority.
Dropped out of high school, Randy then had a wild streak. He was arrested for several different offenses, including breaking and entering, drugs, auto theft, and burglary. During his last run-in with the police in his late teens, the judge told him if he will see Randy again in his court, he should prepare himself to be sent to prison for a long period of time.
6. His first wife was also his first manager.
In 1975, Randy joined a contest at one of the nightclubs in North Carolina and won. The club’s owner, Elizabeth Hatcher, got pretty interested in the young Randy that she hired him as a cook – at the same time, she gave him a regular singing job at the club.
Eventually, Hatcher became Randy’s manager, and the two focused on his career full-time. They both moved to Nashville in 1982 and developed an unlikely romantic relationship.
The couple, who had a 16-year age difference, married in a private ceremony in 1991.
7. He was turned down by every big label in Nashville.
During the early 1980s, Randy was turned down by every major record label in Music City. Record executives even criticized his early demo tapes for being “too country.”
Hatcher came to the rescue by taking a job as a nightclub manager of The Nashville Palace and hired Randy as a singer. In 1982, Randy recorded an independent album Live at the Nashville Palace, which Hatcher used in an attempt to score a deal with Warner Bros. Records.
Fortunately, Warner Bros. signed Randy in, but it was included on the contract that he should keep his romantic relationship with Hatcher a secret.
8. He also added acting on his resume.
Randy has also appeared in several films and television series. This includes The Rainmaker alongside Matt Damon, Black Dog starring Patrick Swayze, among others. He can also be seen in the seven episodes of the fantasy drama television series, Touched by an Angel.
9. He’s a Country Music Hall of Famer
In 2016, Randy became the newest member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In addition to that, the singer enjoyed multiple awards throughout his career – winning seven Grammy Awards and a total of 17 Country Music Association Awards and Academy of Country Music Awards, as well as eight recognitions from the Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. He also got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Indeed, Randy is one of the most accomplished country singers out there!
10. He never had children.
In 2010, Randy and Hatcher ended their marriage after 19 years. The singer found love again and married Mary Travis five years later.
Randy Travis’ wife explained that Randy’s age difference with his then-wife was the biggest factor why the country star never had kids. She also spoke about Randy’s upbringing and his parents’ different personalities, which have affected Randy in different ways all through his life.
11. He’s making massive progress in his recovery.
It’s sad how Randy Travis’ Stroke in 2013 basically made him incapable of walking and has left him with aphasia – a condition that hinders the brain’s ability to comprehend and speak. But the good news is that the singer is making enormous progress and is continually making improvements in his recovery with the help of rehabilitation and his wife.
Currently, Randy Travis has been quarantining together with Mary at their ranch in Texas – “with wide-open spaces and beautiful sunsets.”