It’s not many people who we can truly say are credited with changing an entire genre of music. But that’s just what Randy Travis did when he burst onto the country music scene with his debut single “On the Other Hand” in 1985.
Randy got his start as a cook at the Nashville Palace, where he’d also take the stage to entertain the crowd. He’d been rejected by all of the major record labels for being “too country” at a time when country music featured the slick, production-heavy sounds of the 1970s.
But Randy was more of a traditional country guy, and his deep baritone voice and southern twang was undeniably country – and didn’t sound like anything on the radio at the time.
Undeterred, Randy recorded an independent album Live At The Nashville Palace, which ultimately helped him get a record deal with Warner Bros. Records.
And though his first single didn’t do much on the charts, his next single “1982” was so much of a smash that Warner decided to re-release “On the Other Hand” and give it another chance on the charts. And this time, it shot to the top.
Randy’s neo-traditional sound helped usher in a new class of country music, with artists like Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Tracy Lawrence and Travis Tritt following Randy and his classic sound that was undeniably country.
In fact, Randy was so country – and proud of it – that when his label told him that one of his albums had made the pop charts, he had a hilarious response.
Billy Dean told the story on an episode of Honky Tonkin’ with Tracy Lawrence awhile back. He was hanging out with Paul Overstreet, who has written several #1 hits for Randy Travis including “On the Other Hand” and “Forever and Ever, Amen.” And Randy was there too – so Paul told one of his favorite Randy Travis stories:
“I was at Warner Bros. when the sales department came in and said ‘Hey Randy, congratulations, your album’s in the pop charts!’