When Randy Travis was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in late 2016, Garth Brooks was standing at the podium to bestow the honor on the country traditionalist. On February 8th, Brooks will be back in Travis' corner as one of the performers at "1 Night. 1 Place. 1 Time: A Heroes and Friends Tribute to Randy Travis."
Brooks has made no secret of his love for Travis, having recently covered the singer's "1982" for the 2016 box set Garth Brooks: The Ultimate Collection. With his rise to fame taking place in the wave that crested a mere three years after Travis' landmark Storms of Life, Brooks vividly recalls what a profound impact that moment had on him.
"Just speaking for me, every day you wish Randy Travis would show up again – an artist like Randy Travis," he tells Rolling Stone Country. "But the truth is, that only happened once in my past lifetime. It ain't gonna happen again in the next one for me."
Recalling the revival of traditional sounds in the early-to-mid Eighties among performers like George Strait and Ricky Skaggs, Brooks notes that Travis' effortless twang and simple, powerful songs fundamentally altered country music at the time. As the radio format emerged from the Urban Cowboy era, numerous pop-leaning singles had a sometimes uneasy coexistence with the back-to-basics traditional offerings, at least, Brooks points out, until Travis arrived.
"Think about it: when is there ever, in any format, an artist that has come on the scene that has turned a format 180 degrees from where it's heading, back and made it bigger than it ever was? That's impossible," says Brooks. "I've only known it to happen once to happen, ever and Travis would be the name I'd stick on it."
Brooks joins an impressive, eclectic lineup of stars coming out to celebrate Travis, including Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, William Michael Morgan, Ben Haggard, Kane Brown, Ricky Skaggs, Wynonna, Tanya Tucker and many others. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Randy Travis Foundation, which raises money for stroke research and rehabilitation.
" A Heroes and Friends Tribute to Randy Travis" takes place Wednesday, February 8th at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. This weekend, Brooks returns to Tennessee to play a series of shows at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.