Randy Travis Versus Lib Hatcher (Country History X)
For his Hall of Fame career, Randy Travis’s ace-in-the-hole behind-the-scenes was his manager, his biggest believer, his staunchest champion, his eventual wife, and eventually, his biggest and most catastrophic adversary, Elizabeth “Lib” Hatcher. This is their story.
• Country History X looks to tell the history of country music, one story at a time. It primarily lives here on Saving Country Music, on YouTube (see below and subscribe), and is also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, and Anchor.
• If this story intrigues you, the Randy Travis memoir written with Ken Abraham and published in 2019 can’t be recommended enough.
• This episode is a bit longer than normal to fit all the twists and turns of this intriguing story in.
• A full transcript and sources for the story can be found below.
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Episode #5: The Tragic Life and Death of Keith Whitley
Episode #4: The Mafia, and the Toby Keith & Rascal Flatts Restaurants
Episode #3: Charlie Rich BURNS John Denver
“Randy Travis saved country music. I wouldn’t have had a career if it weren’t for him.” That previous statement is a quote attributed to none other than Garth Brooks, who just like the other country music megastars who launched their careers at the end of the 80’s decade—including Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, and Clint Black—owe much of their success to the doors Randy Travis opened for them in the mid 80’s. Randy Travis and his neotraditonal sound brought country music back from the brink, and helped usher in the genre’s most commercially-successful period up to that point.
But just like most every major country star, Randy Travis had a critically-important individual behind-the-scenes helping to shepherd his career to the top. Willie Nelson had his drummer Paul English, who was a street pimp from Fort Worth who would shake down club owners who refused to pay, and played the role of Willie’s day to day manager for decades. Waylon Jennings had his drummer Richie Albright, who was the guy that convinced Waylon to buck the Nashville system and do things his own way. Buck Owens had his guitar player and harmony singer Don Rich, who added that essential layer to Buck’s music to master that quintessential Bakersfield sound. And for Randy Travis, his ace-in-the-hole behind-the-scenes was his manager, his biggest believer, his staunchest champion, his eventual wife, and eventually, his biggest and most catastrophic adversary.
This is the story of Randy Travis and Lib Hatcher.
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It was a long road to stardom from Marshville, North Carolina where Randy Travis was born and raised as Randy Traywick, and where he dropped out of school after only completing the 8th grade. Randy was a troubled teen growing up, and though Randy’s dad encouraged his interest in music and Randy performed with his brother Ricky in a duo called the Traywick Brothers, a poor relationship with his dad was a contributing factor to Randy’s poor behavior as a youth. At one point Randy was running from the cops in his brother Ricky’s car doing 135 mph before crashing into a cornfield. He was arrested for DUI multiple times, and for other infractions such as burglary and disorderly conduct. Then when Randy and his brother Ricky were caught trying to steal a van, that was the final straw. It could have meant serious prison time for Randy, but he was saved by country music.
In 1975 with the auto theft charges still pending, both Randy and his brother Ricky entered a singing contest at a club called Country City USA in Charlotte, North Carolina, owned by the married couple Frank and Elizabeth Hatcher. The brothers were still performing as a duo, and were good enough that they continued to advance through the contest over its multi-week run. Eventually, Ricky’s court date for the auto theft charge came up, and he was sent to prison for a full year, leaving Randy all alone to compete in the contest. Lucky for Randy, his court date wasn’t until a month later. This twist of fate kept Randy out of the clink for just long enough to win the contest, and set off his musical career.
Showing legitimate promise and dedication to country music, Country City USA owners Frank and Lib Hatcher convinced the judge in the auto theft case to allow them to become Randy’s legal guardians to look after him and shepherd his career. This kept Randy out of prison, and Randy’s mom and dad signed away their parental rights to the Hatchers. Randy moved to Charlotte permanently, where along with performing six nights a week at the Country City USA club, he worked full time cooking, cleaning, and doing maintenance around the property.
Though the arrangement seemed wholesome enough at the start, when Frank Hatcher went away on business, the relationship between Randy and Lib Hatcher would turn physical. And just appreciate, at the time Randy was only 17-years-old, and Lib Hatcher was some 18 years his senior. She was also from a legal standpoint essentially Randy’s mother, even as this sexual relationship developed. This dynamic is key to understanding how the interconnection between Randy Travis and Lib Hatcher would mature and develop over the next many years. Randy’s dad Harold saw how Lib was slowly gaining control over Randy in more ways than one and tried to intervene, but Lib banned Harold from the Country Music USA club after he showed up once and caused a scene, keeping him mostly away from Randy for the years to come.
By March of 1980, the Hatchers were divorced, and Lib—believing in Randy as a one-in-a-million talent—was dedicating her life to making Randy Travis a star, which meant rearranging her life, working long hours, and pinching pennies. While initially still living in Charlotte, Randy and Lib made frequent trips to Nashville. Randy recorded a couple of singles with the help of country artist Joe Stampey, who’d seen Randy in Charlotte, and recognized his talent. Lib bankrolled the studio sessions out of her own pocket, and then Lib and Randy went driving all up and down the east coast, visiting radio stations and trying to get the singles played. It cost Lib Hatcher a fortune, but she believed in Randy, and that eventually her investment would pay off.
Then after six years of using Country City USA as their home base, Randy Travis and Lib Hatcher took the plunge and moved to Nashville together in 1981, where Lib quickly landed a job as the manager of the Nashville Palace, and soon hired Randy Travis on as a cook and dishwasher, similar to his duties at Country Music USA. And of course, Randy got his opportunities to perform on the Nashville Palace stage as well, and made the best of them, while Lib worked tirelessly to promote him throughout town.
Randy recalls about Lib Hatcher, quote, “An ambitious workaholic, she knocked on every door of opportunity and tried to push her way inside. She loved the work and was always looking for the next project—and of course, I was her main project. When it came to my music and me, she refused to take no for a final answer. Her aggressive personality was almost like a bulldozer knocking down a sapling.” Unquote.
But the timing was off for Randy’s style of neotraditional country. The year previous to Randy moving to Nashville, the movie Urban Cowboy had become all the rage, and helped push country music in a more pop and softer direction than it was already going during its Countrypolitan phase. Randy Travis did receive some early opportunities. He appeared on Ralph Emery’s famous morning TV program in Nashville. He met “Little” Jimmy Dickens at the Nashville Palace where the country legend hung out and played often, and Little Jimmy invited Randy to make his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, which was located just across the street from the Nashville Palace.
But across town on Music Row where the major label offices were located, Randy couldn’t get his foot in the door. He recalls quote, “Lib kept trying to pitch me to most of the record companies in Nashville. Every one of them said no. Most of the major labels turned us down twice and some three times. Over and over we heard, ‘You’re too country. That sound will never sell—not albums or tickets.'” Unquote.
At the time, Randy was performing under the name Randy Ray, and though he was garnering a big following at the Nashville Palace, the industry wanted little to do with him. That all changed when Randy changed his name to Travis, finally landed a deal with Warner Bros., and on the second shot releasing the song “On The Other Hand” written by Don Schlitz and Paul Oversteeet, it became a smash single in 1985, and Randy’s first #1 song. The perseverance of Randy Travis and Lib Hatcher had paid off, 10 years after the duo first started trying to hit it big in country music.
“On The Other Hand” was such a big hit, Randy Travis was nominated for Top New Male Vocalist for the ACM Awards, and lo and behold, he won it. Travis remembers quote, “I had no sooner walked offstage than Lib snatched the award from me. She was so excited, she wouldn’t let go of it. It was almost as if she had won the award! After the show, we were mingling with the crowd when somebody walked up to me and said, ‘This must feel pretty good.’ ‘It sure does!’ Lib butted in, hugging the trophy to her breast.” Unquote.
If you’re a country music fan, I probably don’t need to tell you of all the successes that would come for Randy Travis in the subsequent years. He became the biggest thing in country music in the late 80s. After the release of “On The Other Hand,” 11 of Randy’s next 13 singles went #1, including songs that are now considered country standards like “Diggin’ Up Bones,” “Forever and Ever, Amen,” and “Deeper Than The Holler,” defining the greatness of country music for the era, and bringing the country sound back to country music in the process.
Randy’s success was due to his stellar voice, his ear for a great song, and behind-the-scenes, the dogged insistence of Lib Hatcher. This didn’t come without making a few enemies though. Early in Randy’s career, he often opened for George Jones on tour. One time Randy Travis was booked to appear at George’s outdoor music park called Jones Country in east Texas. When Randy and Lib pulled up to the park, Lib noticed that the way Randy’s name was promoted on a marquee, it alluded that maybe Randy would be playing all weekend when he was only booked to perform on Sunday night.
Seeing this, Lib hunted down George’s wife Nancy Jones, and demanded more money, saying Randy was owed since the his name was being used to promote multiple nights. Nancy Jones—who was exhausted from trying to wrangle George who’d been on one of his infamous benders all weekend—would have none of it. The conversation turned heated, and Nancy gestured angrily for Lib to leave, accidentally knocking the blonde wig Lib Hatcher notoriously wore off her head. Randy Travis and George Jones had a good laugh about the whole incident later, but bad blood persisted between Lib Hatcher and Nancy Jones from then on out.
The romantic portion of Randy and Lib’s relationship was left entirely to rumor and speculation for the early portions of Randy’s career. Publicly, Lib was just Randy’s manager. But that all changed in 1991 when the National Enquirer published a story claiming that the reason Randy Travis remained single and was never seen in public with a wife or girlfriend was because he was a closet homosexual. Now remember, this is 1991 we’re talking about, and such an accusation was considered scandalous in country music. The National Enquirer cited no sources, nor presented any evidence for their claims, but it became a scandal nonetheless. The cover story was also published the week of the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, when many DJs, industry types, and media were all congregated together, fueling the rumor mill. It became very damaging for Randy’s reputation.
The usually affable Randy Travis was absolutely furious, flatly denying the accusations. Nonetheless, public perception began to turn as rumors ran rampant, so to answer the accusations and squash the controversy, Randy Travis revealed on March 8th, 1991 that he had been living with Lib Hatcher for a number of years. Then Randy and Lib officially married on May 31st, 1991 while on a vacation in Hawaii, and that was that.
Throughout their relationship, and now their marriage, Lib Hatcher controlled the social life of Randy Travis with an iron fist. He was disallowed to drink, or really socialize at all if Lib wasn’t around, even with other professionals in the industry. Remember, Randy was first brought under Lib’s wing when he was only 17-years-old and she was 35, and under the premise she would be his legal guardian and make sure he stayed on the straight and narrow, which after that point, Randy Travis had done. But Lib knew of Randy’s past, including the multiple DUI arrests and other run-in’s with the law during his youth, and kept that domineering, motherly role in Randy’s life even as he matured into his thirties and forties. And Randy, who knew he was deeply indebted to Lib for the success in his career, went along with it.
Randy Travis says in his memoir, quote, “The one point which everyone agreed was Lib’s domineering personality. Comparing her absolute control of nearly everything in my life to the domination of Elvis Presley by Colonel Parker, one friend quipped that ‘She make Colonel Parker seem like a kindergartner.’ While I believed that Lib loved me and knew that she had poured her life into helping us succeed, the question of whether she was serving my best interests or her own popped up frequently and increasingly irritated me. It was always there, festering like an infected wound, even when fantastic things were happening in our lives. And fantastic things were happening, make no mistake.” Unquote.
Randy Travis continued to score hits throughout the mid and late 90’s, even if they didn’t come as easy as earlier in his career, and a new generation of stars that owed a lot of their success to Randy Travis took Randy’s place at the forefront of the genre. Randy was still a major concert draw though, and as the radio hits began to taper off, he began turning his focus towards more faith-based music.
Though this hastened country radio falling out of favor with Randy, it earned him a new audience in the Christian market, and was where Randy’s heart was as someone who’d battled demons in his youth, and overcome them to find success in his life. In 2002 when some had all but cast off Randy as a commercial force in country, he minted what would be his 16th #1 hit with the country Gospel song “Three Wooden Crosses.” The song also won the CMA Award for Song of the Year in 2003.
But afterwards, mainstream country music would move on from Randy Travis, as it commonly does with aging stars, though he was able to transition from a radio star to a living legend smoothly, and was revered wherever he went, and continued to draw large crowds in the United States and in Europe. In 2009 when Randy Travis was touring Northern Ireland, they solicited the services of a local driver named Eamonn McCrystal (spelled e-a-m-o-n-n, but pronounced “Amon”) to take them to and from shows and other places during the 12-day trip. It turns out that Eamonn was also an aspiring pop artist, and slipped Lib a copy of a live album he’d recorded. Over the span of the Irish tour, Lib became enamored with Eamonn, eventually signing him to a management deal, and convincing him to move to the United States.
Over the next few months, Eamonn McCrystal began to be interjected into the lives of Randy Travis and Lib, both personally and professionally. Lib insisted that Eamonn perform a few songs in the middle of Randy’s shows, even though Eamonn’s pop music didn’t fit with what Randy’s audience desired at all. Eamonn moved in with Randy and Lib, and would regularly eat meals with the couple. Even though the marriage between Randy and Lib was always a bit rocky, one thing they enjoyed together was going on movie dates. Eamonn even accompanied the pair on these. It was clear that Lib Hatcher saw Eamonn McCrystal as her next big project, even if he failed to find major traction in his career despite Lib promoting him at every turn.
Lib even made Randy record a song with Eamonn, but at one point, Randy Travis put his foot down, refusing to allow Eamonn to come out and perform at one of his shows. The social media-savvy Eamonn took to the burgeoning medium of Facebook to complain, making Randy Travis who’d never even heard of Facebook out as the villain. Soon, the regularly-rocky relationship between Randy and Lib began to unravel, and Randy—who’d remained sober ever since Lib had become his legal guardian when he was 17-years-old—began taking swigs of wine. It wasn’t just his way to escape, it was Randy’s way of exerting his freedom against Lib who had controlled him for so many years.
In the Winter of 2009, the house manager of an estate Randy and Lib owned in Santa Fe named Dolores found an email between Lib and Eamonn that made it clear they had kindled a romantic relationship behind Randy’s back. Dolores confronted Lib about the matter, telling her she should be honest with Randy, but Lib refused, instead firing Dolores, and then placing a gag order on Dolores so she couldn’t tell Randy about the relationship herself. Similar to how Lib had groomed Randy when he was young, the same thing appeared to now be happening with Eamonn.
In 2010, even though Lib Hatcher has always been at all of Randy’s gigs and by his side most all of the time, she was MIA when Randy played a show at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. Instead Lib was in Mississippi touring around with Eamonn McCrystal. Randy Travis felt alone and lost, and began to confide in a friend of his named Mary Davis. Randy had first met Mary in the early 90’s. Mary was the sister of Stubbs Davis, who was a Western shirt designer in Dallas, and she was married to a dentist in the Dallas suburb of Plano. They met because Stubbs Davis made many of Randy’s stage shirts. Mary happened to be at that Billy Bob’s Texas gig, and saw that Randy was not himself, and reached out.
Soon a close friendship, and eventually a relationship developed between Randy Travis and Mary. It’s important to point out that when this happened, Randy and Mary were both still officially married to other people, even if both relationships were on their last legs. Also at the time, Randy did not know for sure that Lib was cheating on him with Eamonn McCrystal, since Dolores, the assistant at the Santa Fe estate, had been gag ordered, even if Randy had his suspicions, as he had with other men who’d moved in and out of Lib’s life over the years, including massage therapists and others in Lib’s orbit.
Does it feel like this situation is getting a little soapy? We’ll it got even soapier when Mary Davis gave Randy Travis his own cell phone as a gift. That’s right, Lib even refused to allow Randy to own his own phone. And in 2010 at the age of 51, Randy Travis finally received a cell phone of his own. When Lib heard about it, she sent Randy the same phone, just on her plan, and told Randy to use her phone instead. After Randy’s business manager got a sinking suspicion that either the phone or Randy’s bus were bugged since Lib would frequently call asking questions each time Randy and the business manager talked, sure enough, a search of the bus turned up a hidden camera and listening device Lib was using to spy on Randy.
Randy believed it was Eamonn McCrystal who installed the surveillance equipment, calling the pop singer a quote/unquote “gadget guy,” but that’s never been confirmed. What was confirmed later is that the day before Randy Travis and his new love interest Mary Davis met in Oklahoma and officially sparked off their relationship, Lib Hatcher had already put a condominium in Nashville under contract for herself and Eamonn, unbeknownst to Randy.
Obviously, the marriage between Randy Travis and Lib Hatcher was not meant to last, and Randy filed for divorce in April of 2010. It was finalized on October 28 of that year. Strangely though—and partially due to the fact that both their personal and business affairs were so intertwined—Randy Travis chose to retain Lib Hatcher as his manager after the divorce. Even though it was really Randy doing Lib the favor, Lib still tried to levy concessions from Travis. Despite the regular rate for a manager in the music business being 15%, Lib had always made 25% off of Randy. Of course when they were a couple, most of the money was going to the same place anyway. After the divorce, Lib Hatcher tried to get Randy Travis to agree to a 33% cut for her, which Randy almost agreed to just to amicably move forward, before they eventually decided to go back to the already-inflated rate of 25%.
During the divorce, other financial irregularities came up. For example, expenses tied to Eamonn McCrystal’s career—including the leasing of his tour bus—were charged to Randy Travis accounts. Business dealings in Lib’s name were accounted as being in the black, while many of Randy’s affairs were found to be losing money. Lib disallowed Randy from stepping foot onto their property in New Mexico, which at the time served as their primary residence, and instead sent Randy’s belongings to him in poorly-packed boxes, with many of his awards and memorabilia being damaged or destroyed in the process. This led to further tension that saw Randy Travis finally fire Lib as his manager on August 8th, 2011.
After this, Randy tried to get a clear accounting of all of his financial assets, including the investments taken out from all the millions of dollars he’d made over the years. After all, he’d sold some 25 million records and played countless concerts, and was one of the biggest concert draws in country music for years. But after making multiple phone calls and inquiries, Randy found out all the investment accounts were gone. Since Lib Hatcher had control over everything as Randy’s manager, all the assets had been sold off or moved into other accounts. Lib even absconded with all of the couple’s frequent flyer miles, apparently using them to fly herself and Eamonn to Ireland for Christmas.
Randy credits his own naivety for not keeping tabs on his financial affairs, giving Lib access to all accounts and passwords, signing whatever documents she put in front of him no matter what they were for without asking questions, and expecting her to always have his best interests in mind, which she might have for many years, though not after the divorce.
But of course there’s two sides to every story. In April of 2012, Lib Hatcher filed a lawsuit against Randy Travis, alleging that Travis intentionally interfered with Lib’s ability to do her job during the post-divorce management period, and Travis purposely undermined the effectiveness of his career in the entertainment industry to maliciously get back at Lib. The lawsuit also alleged that Randy Travis and his attorneys terminated her contract without written notice, and that Randy had raided Lib’s office on Music Row in Nashville with an armed guard and several other men, absconding with records and computers they didn’t have a right to.
Travis countersued, and said the reason he had to fire Lib as his manager was due to her 25% cut being so high, and as his touring revenue continued to dwindle, each time he would play a concert, Randy would lose money instead of make it. Eventually the lawsuits were settled, but the details were never publicly disclosed.
Randy Travis recalls quote, “Looking back, although Lib’s and my relationship was unusual, I truly believe that we had loved each other with as much love as we knew at the time. In many ways we had been good for each other, and I’d always expressed my appreciation for her dogged determination in steering my career. On the other hand, the comparison’s between Lib’s and my relationship and that of Colonel Parker and Elvis were apt. He helped make Elvis’s career, but he controlled Elvis to the point that he had also helped destroy him. In a similar way, Lib had controlled everything about our business and about our lives from the time I was 17, and I had been content to allow her to do that for nearly 33 years.”
Randy Travis continues, quote, “Johnny Cash forged his own destiny. Eddie (sic) Arnold was in command of his career. Dolly Parton took charge of her own career from the beginning, and so did Garth Brooks. Taylor Swift and her parents were the key decision makers in her career. Not me. I was never in charge. Lib was. And I let her.” Unquote.
If you’re a fan of Randy Travis, you probably know what happened next. Off the wagon, out from under the oppressive thumb of Lib Hatcher, but also depressed about the direction of his life and career, Randy’s drinking got the best of him, and it resulted in a couple of high-profile run-ins with the law in 2012—the saucy details and circumstances of which probably deserve their own deep dive at some point. But long story short, the rather squeaky clean reputation Randy Travis had kept throughout his career was all of a sudden sullied.
But that wouldn’t be the worst of Randy’s worries heading into the summer of 2013, when after suffering from a upper respiratory infection, it was found that Randy Travis was experiencing a condition called viral cardiomyopathy, which is a viral infection that affects the heart. This led to further complications, Randy Travis going into a coma, Randy suffering a stroke while in a coma that wasn’t diagnosed until he was resuscitated, emergency brain surgery to alleviate pressure including removing a part of his skull, and an eventual conclusion that took one of the most cherished voices to ever grace country music away from us.
Though Randy Travis survived, the harrowing medical experience and specifically the stroke left Randy with aphasia which affected Randy’s speech, even though as those close to Randy insist, he’s still lucid, and able to communicate with them through other means. Again, the details of Randy’s illness and his personal behavior ahead of it are sort of their own tale to be told. But one detail that has been overlooked or outright misreported over the years is that when Randy suffered his health setback, he was not drinking or using drugs as some surmised. Because he was on probation at the time for his previous arrests due to drunkenness, he had to remain sober, or he could be sent to prison. The health issue is believed to have started from a viral infection Randy Travis possibly contracted while inside an old abandoned building with lots of dust while shooting a movie.
All of these troubles came amid the backdrop of Randy Travis continuing to attempt to settle his affairs with Lib Hatcher, which had not become any easier. With Randy no longer able to perform, they assumed he would be able to make a disability insurance claim. After all, Randy had been paying around $250,000 for insurance to cover most anything that could go wrong for many years throughout his career. But no such provision in Randy’s particular insurance plan existed, nor was Randy covered for the concerts he had to cancel because of his condition. In Randy’s memoir it says, quote, “This financial oversight—or perhaps willful disregard or mishandling of my fiduciary affairs—was the first indication that my health issues were not going to be the only problem we faced.” Unquote.
Then Randy and Mary tried to determine why he wasn’t receiving any royalty checks for his music from his long-time label Warner Bros. Records. After traveling to Nashville and meeting with the label’s executives, they explained to Randy that despite selling some 25 million records, he’d yet to recoup the advances against royalties that had been taken out in Randy’s name. In other words, over the years, Randy’s royalty money had been used as a bank to draw against before the money had been actually made. And so unable to work due to the health issues, in financial straits already from the divorce from Lib Hatcher, and with tons of medical bills tied to his treatment and rehabilitation, Randy Travis actually owed money to his record label, not vice versa.
Despite the incredible hardships both physically, emotionally, and financially, Mary Davis still married Randy Travis on March 21st, 2015 in a small, private ceremony. Randy says quote, “I was healthy, in fantastic physical condition, and a highly successful country star when we fell in love. But she married me after I had been incapacitated by a stroke, knowing full well what she was getting herself into. That was a major commitment—a commitment of love.” Unquote.
If you’re wondering whatever happened to Eamonn McCrystal, his music career never took off like Randy’s, despite the dogged efforts of Lib Hatcher. Eamonn continues to perform and record as a music artist to some moderate success. He also regularly appears on TV specials, and has also worked as a television host and producer.
As for Lib Hatcher, she has gone on to become a producer and executive producer herself in the television and film world, using her wealth to bankroll projects, especially in the realm of faith-based programming—something she had dabbled in while still married to Randy Travis, though it has picked up steam since then, with some 20-plus projects where Lib is cited in the credits being produced from 2014 to 2020, often with the last name “Travis” as opposed to “Hatcher.” It’s also worth noting that Randy Travis had a sizable career in acting himself before his health issues, appearing in dozens of films and TV shows in supporting or cameo roles.
Lib Hatcher’s net worth is estimated at some $30 million. As for Randy—which at the height of his career was said to be worth near $32 million—his net worth is estimated to be much lower these days in the aftermath of his divorce from Lib and his medical issues, and is probably somewhere in the seven digits as opposed to eight.
But when Randy Travis was announced as an inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016, Randy and his wife Mary made sure to credit Lib Hatcher for the all work she had done in helping to forge Randy’s Hall of Fame career.
The case of Randy Travis and Lib Hatcher is not a classic, good guy, bad guy story. Randy Travis will be the first to tell you that if it wasn’t for Lib Hatcher, her initial investment in his career when she had little to no money to her name, her dogged determination, and her opening of doors for Randy, he would have never had a career in country music, and it most certainly would have never been as wildly successful.
Not to excuse some of Lib Hatcher’s actions, but as Randy himself says, as manipulative and cunning as Lib Hatcher may have been, it was Randy that allowed that behavior over decades due to how their relationship had begun, with Lib as a parental guardian and personal mentor, casting their roles moving forward, and made messy by the romantic direction it all eventually went in.
Whatever your judgement of the personal behavior of Lib Hatcher, or Randy Travis, the propulsive combination of Randy’s talent and Lib’s tenacity and determination resulted in one of the most important careers and catalogs in country music history. As Garth Brooks said, it saved country music in its era. And for that, country fans will be forever grateful to Randy Travis, and Lib Hatcher.
Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life by Randy Travis and Ken Abraham – 2019
Nashville Business Journal – Elizabeth Travis Sues Ex-Husband Randy Travis
IMDb – Elizabeth Hatcher-Travis
networthpost.org – Elizabeth Hatcher Travis
June 20, 2021 @ 10:07 am
Happy Father’s Day, Papa Trig Coroneos
June 20, 2021 @ 10:11 am
I think you mean Mary was the *sister* of Stubbs Davis…
The Lib Hatcher relationship is textbook abusive.
July 20, 2021 @ 10:38 am
I think it’s safe to say that Lib Hatcher is in some way a pedophile. Had people known the full story behind the relationship between she and Randy; she probably wouldn’t even have a career. Perhaps she should be thanking him instead of it being him thanking her.
June 20, 2021 @ 10:58 am
Damn, this was well put together and interesting, even if a little soapy.
June 20, 2021 @ 11:08 am
Trigger out of curiosity I searched for Eamonn McCrystal and it shows that he’s 34 and an Emmy Winner. Would this be the same guy because Lib is close to 80 and I guess she does like them young…..not that there’s anything wrong with it.
June 20, 2021 @ 11:44 am
Sounds like the same guy. Yes, Lib liked them young.
July 24, 2022 @ 3:54 pm
One little flaw in Lib’s plan: Eamonn McCrystal is openly GAY.
June 20, 2021 @ 11:12 am
Liz is a varmint. A pathetic parasite.
Country When Country Wasn't Cool
June 20, 2021 @ 6:55 pm
I agree. Yes, she guided Randy Travis to a Hall of Fame career. But come on…she was in her 30s having s swxual relationship with a 17 year-old kid, and apparently a managerial arrangement that was not the norm. She should be the one worth seven figures, not the other way around. Though she apparently knew what she was doing and succeeded, she was a predator and saw dollar signs – for herself. Travis still speaking kindly of her at this point speaks volumes about his character. I wouldn’t have been so gracious.
June 20, 2021 @ 11:28 am
Could this be part of the reason WB is doing the Storms of Life reissue.
June 20, 2021 @ 11:48 am
Not sure about that specific project, but I do believe that Randy’s tenuous financial situation is one of the reasons Mary and others are really trying to hustle and keep his name out there in the public. I think a lot of folks assume Randy must be rolling in the dough since he was so popular for so long. I don’t know what he’s worth, but it’s likely a lot less than he should be.
Country When Country Wasn't Cool
June 20, 2021 @ 7:00 pm
Storms Of Life reaches its 35th anniversary this year, and it’s a milestone album for country music. Irregardless of the situation, I think everyone involved would be keen to reissue the album. Looking forward to it, as well as Always & Forever and Old 8 x10 down the line.
June 20, 2021 @ 12:43 pm
Excellent story Kyle!
What is it that drives control freaks? I have zero patience for that particular trait that is prevalent in our society- I despise people who use others, no matter what *excuse* is used or accepted- as far as whether or not RT would have not been as successful is pure speculation-
June 20, 2021 @ 12:59 pm
” using her [stolen] wealth to bankroll projects, especially in the realm of faith-based programming” – How ironic
“Dolly Parton took charge of her own career from the beginning”
Didn’t she have some weird stuation going on with Porter Wagoner?
June 20, 2021 @ 2:33 pm
I only vaguely knew some of these details before, and hearing them fully for the first time laid out like this, I was struck by Randy’s acknowledgement and mature outlook of Lib. You could question his reasons for being so generous to her at various stages, but it also could be that he is just a forgiving and mature person. Many people whine incessantly, often about far less, than what happened to him. Anyway, because of that, and despite his stumbles, I can’t help admiring his strength of character.
June 20, 2021 @ 3:00 pm
My thoughts exactly. Well researched and interesting from start to finish.
June 20, 2021 @ 3:17 pm
Nobody who knows anything about country music history would refer to the great Eddy Arnold as “Eddie Arnold”.
June 20, 2021 @ 3:30 pm
Not sure I would want to make that accusation against Randy Travis. That is a quote from Randy, and I just confirmed that’s how it’s spelled on page 180 of his autobiography. Just added a (sic) to clear up any confusion. Clearly, it was an innocent typo from Randy and his co-writer.
Country When Country Wasn't Cool
June 20, 2021 @ 7:02 pm
Blame the editor…that’s their job
June 20, 2021 @ 5:00 pm
Trigger, given Randy’s limited ability to communicate, how much of Randy’s autobiography seems to be his recollections versus conjecture from family and friends? It all seems to be written in Randy’s voice, but some of the quotes seem more like his new wife digging into Lib (not that it’s unjustified). Maybe some of the book was in the works prior to his health issues?
June 20, 2021 @ 5:20 pm
Very good question, and something I was going to address in the podcast itself, but it already was going long.
I do believe that parts of this book were already in the works before Randy Travis suffered his stroke. Also, when originally reading and reviewing his autobiography in 2019 and then doing research for this podcast, I noticed that some accounts and some specific quotes were very similar to things Randy had said in interviews at the time throughout his career, so perhaps where there were some holes, things were referenced or filled in with stuff Randy had said on record in the past. I don’t know this for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.
Also, I have received assurances that despite Randy not being able to speak, he still can communicate, and personally approves everything that is attributed to him.
As for digging into Lib, as I tried to illustrate in the podcast, along with portraying Lib pretty negatively, both Randy and his new wife Mary still give credit to Lib for helping make Randy Travis a superstar, and they both have said he would have never made it in big in country music if it wasn’t for Lib. Randy also goes out of his way to express how he’s partially to blame for letting Lib run him for years unchecked. I think with these acknowledgements, I feel like the portrayal of Lib’s behavior is pretty fair. That said, there are two sides to every story. That is why I included Lib’s accusations against Randy from her 2012 lawsuit.
June 21, 2021 @ 6:01 pm
I have a different opinion on Lib Hatcher. Yes, she helped Randy with many achievements, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have made it without her. He may have struggled a little longer, but with his voice and talent, someone else would have come along and guided him to stardom. She was a workaholic but in the end did more harm than good for Randy
April 5, 2022 @ 3:32 am
I have been a huge fan of Randy since day one. I have followed him and his career since day one. I know that the book is all Randy’s words and approved by Randy. Anyone who has been to his concerts or met him and had any encounter with Lib could see what was going on. Randy and Mary has chosen to take the high road and not bad mouth Lib to the public. That in itself says a lot about their character and what good, decent people they are. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how cruel and vindictive Lib was to Randy. God bless Randy and Mary for taking the high road and for being who they are!!
June 21, 2021 @ 5:13 am
I can assure you this Trigger character knows nothing of Randy Travis.
Diane J Diekman
June 21, 2021 @ 3:30 pm
Ken Abraham wrote this memoir (not autobiography) for Randy. A note from Randy in the front of the book says, “Because of certain circumstances I have experienced, I have relied on a number of individuals to help describe and fill in some details of this story.” I’m sure everybody understands Randy wasn’t physically able to write this book himself. I think Ken did a great job of compiling interviews and documents and telling the whole story in Randy’s words.
June 20, 2021 @ 8:22 pm
Randy appears from all these accounts to have been mentally slow long before suffering his stroke.
Like an idiot savant who’s talent is singing.
There’s no reason that a mentally healthy person who was making tons of money and had a wide circle of attorneys and advisors to turn to would have let this old birch dominate his life
June 20, 2021 @ 9:03 pm
Wasn’t it Billy Joel who was bankrupted by his manager brother-in-law?
Others on here will know far more about this.
June 21, 2021 @ 1:12 pm
Other artists have been cheated by managers, as Billy Joel may have been. Despite some reports claiming that he did, Billy Joel never filed for bankruptcy, though his manager did. And Billy Joel never claimed to be in the poor house.
But that’s not really the point. Finances are one thing, but Billy Joel never claimed that a wife or manager or anyone else controlled his life, decided who he could or could not see or socialize with or do business with. Billy Joel has clearly lived and controlled his own life–both personal and music career. Travis says that Hatcher controlled every aspect of his life from the time he was a teenager until he was 50. That’s not normal. It suggests some sort of impairment.
June 21, 2021 @ 2:17 pm
“Finances are one thing, but Billy Joel never claimed that a wife or manager or anyone else controlled his life, decided who he could or could not see or socialize with or do business with.”
I understand, and agree with what you are saying.
Randy is still in an abusive situation.
Of course, there are varying degrees of abuse.
Mary is not altruistic, in her desire to “help” Randy.
June 21, 2021 @ 7:44 pm
“That’s not normal. It suggests some sort of impairment.”. I have to disagree with you on that.
Given his troubled family life, lack of formal education, alcohol abuse, etc., he was in a position where a predator could groom him. Lib Hatcher became that groomer.
Yes, she was a workaholic promoter of his career and she profited handsomely at his expense as a person. Pretty evil stuff here.
June 22, 2021 @ 12:25 am
It doesn’t even sound like you disagree with me on the sentence you quoted.
June 20, 2021 @ 9:57 pm
Great, informative article about one of the great voices in country music. I had no idea. BTW, you don’t have to write “quote” and “unquote”- that’s what the quotation marks are for.
June 21, 2021 @ 7:08 am
Since this is his podcast script, it is written exactly as he speaks it during recording.
June 20, 2021 @ 10:37 pm
I saw 1st hand how Lib controlled Randy and as manager of The Nashville Palace.
She told Randy when and what he could do.
I was bass player and band leader for “Nashville” which was the houseband at The Nashville Palace when Randy would come from the kitchen to the stage when told to by Lib. We were told when he would come up.
We also filmed several TV shows for TNN at the Palace backing Randy. On one the song “I Told You So”, penned by Randy, was heard for the 1st time.
Randy was always very shy and quite and but courteous to all.
Unlike Lib which I had to deal with a lot as band leaders.
After 1 year at the Palace I left to go back on tour with Shelly West. We were filming Nashville Now a few weeks after I left. I came in the Palace one night to see everyone and Randy and I talked and I told him of the up coming TV filming. He said I’ve never seen the show live. I told him to meet me at the Palace on the afternoon of the taping and I’d take him over which i did.
It wasn’t long after that the rise of Randy Travis emerged instead of Randy Ray (and Nashville as we were booked at the Palace)
I’ve remained friends with Randy and even at one time was told I had the job as his bass player but by the time I got to the office on 16th Avs. S.
Lib had found out it was me and said no to the deal. Most of his band then were friends of mine and had pulled to get me in but Lib saw that it would not be.
Our paths crossed several times in years to come as I was touring as bass player and band leader for Tracy Lawrence for near 10 years. We both worked Las Vegas for the National Pro Rodeo in December several times and saw each other.
Randy Travis is still a good friend and a Country Music Giant and that will NOT CHANGE!!
mouths of babes
June 21, 2021 @ 7:02 am
This story is insane. Being from KY, I’ve always been well versed in the background of The Judd’s, Keith Whitley and the like, but always just assumed Randy Travis’ background was cookie cutter vanilla.
I was literally left speechless as I read through the transcript. His life is a tragedy. As a person, he never had a chance.
June 21, 2021 @ 10:26 am
Wow what a story!
Singed by Randy Travis could have been one of the greatest heartbreak country song of all times!!
June 21, 2021 @ 3:02 pm
If their gender had been reversed prison time would be discussed. 17 and 35 year olds = illegal and morally wrong. She is a total waste of oxygen.
June 22, 2021 @ 1:59 am
“17 and 35 year olds” is not illegal. Sorry.
June 30, 2021 @ 12:57 pm
I don’t know about 1975, but in current Tennessee law and current North Carolina law, a 35-year old having sex with a 17-year-old would most certainly be guilty of statutory rape.
June 22, 2021 @ 9:22 am
Thank you for this amazing article about all Randy Travis has lived through. He was and will always be loved for his music, his forgiving and gentle character. He did the right thing g and forgave Lib Hatcher for all the terrible things gs she has done. This just makes me love him that much more. God bless you dear Randy and Mary. Keep doing you. Forever and ever AMEN!
June 22, 2021 @ 3:37 pm
I had no idea of any of this. That woman is a sexual predator and an abuser by any definition of the terms and Randy Travis was her victim. Imagine if this had happened now with a underage female singer and a male manager. That guy would be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail and he’d deserve it too. As does she.
The real kicker is that a woman who’s committed financial fraud, repeated adultery, and statutory rape that was quasi-incestuous ends up making money off of faith-based programming while her victim suffers with ill health, addiction issues and the mental problems from a life of being dominated by this person. I’m glad he’s found someone who really loves him after all he’s been through and that he has some money left to live as comfortably as possible. Damn.
June 23, 2021 @ 9:25 pm
Man, this sounds like the plot of Pure Country.
October 5, 2021 @ 4:46 am
wow what a crazy story
August 8, 2022 @ 7:46 pm
This is so sad but but 63 is still young. He needed a good male friend. I’m just reading the book. Just finding everything on Google.
Now he is with Jesus and Jesus will guide him.
Leon Watson, please do not leave him.