Randy Travis is the new “Modern Era” inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The announcement came Tuesday morning (3-29) at a press conference in the Hall of Fame rotunda in Nashville hosted by Hall of Famer Brenda Lee. Other inductees included Charlie Daniels in the Veteran Era, and label owner and DJ Fred Foster in the non-performer category.
“Thank you,” Randy said simply … the first public words Randy has spoken since suffering a stroke in 2013.
Before there was Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Brooks & Dunn, and the other big commercial powerhouses of country music in the late 80’s and early 90’s, there was Randy Travis setting the table for them all, revitalizing the neotraditional sound in country music, opening the door for a new era where country music would reach its commercial pinnacle, and playing a pivotal role in the history of the genre.
“Randy Travis cleared the whole way for the 80’s for guys like me and the class of ’89 to come through,” Garth Brooks said upon his own induction in 2012. Garth believed Randy should have been inducted before him, and now they both share the distinction. Many of the eligible and recently inducted members to the Hall of Fame in the Modern Era category directly owe at least a portion of their success to Randy Travis.
Beyond the importance Randy Travis had for country music in the mid and late 80’s, his list of accolades and awards are startling. 23 #1 hits, 50 charting singles, 25 million records sold, six #1 albums, six CMA Awards including consecutive Male Vocalist of the Year trophies in 1987 and 1988, and six Grammy Awards only tell part of the story of the impact Randy Travis had.
Born Randy Bruce Traywick on May 4, 1959 in Marshville, North Carolina, he moved to Nashville in 1982, and initially was rejected by every major label in town for being too country. Travis worked as a cook at the Nashville Palace and moonlighted as a singer, releasing a live record from the location that finally put Randy on the radar of Warner Bros. Records. His major label debut, Storms of Life, sold over 4 million copies and launched two #1 songs, “On The Other Hand” and “Diggin’ Up Bones.” Nine out of Randy’s next 10 singles would also hit #1, and soon he would be cemented as one of the seminal voices in country music of all time.
Travis would remain commercially relevant all the way through the 90’s and into the early 2000’s when he scored his final #1 song “Three Wooden Crosses” in 2002. Into the mid 2000’s, his commercial performance began to taper off, but he continued to be a fan favorite and beloved performer. On July 7, 2013, Travis was admitted to a hospital in the Dallas area for viral cardiomyopathy, or a weakening of the heart muscle. Three days later Travis had a major stroke and was forced to undergo emergency surgery to relieve pressure in his brain. The health problems left Travis partially paralyzed and unable to speak, but he has slowly been making progress due to physical therapy.
Though personal issues and his health problems have kept Travis out of the spotlight recently, his induction to the Hall of Fame is a decision that should be met with universal consensus.