Several years before Randy Travis adopted his stage name and changed country-music history, the native of Marshville, North Carolina, was still using his birth name Randy Traywick as the teenaged front man of a bar band called Country Lovin’, which played a regular gig at Charlotte’s Country City U.S.A. in the late Seventies. Travis, who turns 61 years old today, also had the opportunity to perform on local TV in 1978.
The Ken Linker Variety Hour, which began broadcasting locally in Charlotte in the mid-Sixties, featured musical guests from multiple genres. With his popularity at Country City U.S.A. growing, Randy Traywick became a recording artist on Paula Records, a label which had also given singer Mickey Gilley his start in 1966. Traywick’s first single was called “Dreamin’,” with a B-side titled “I’ll Take Any Willing Woman,” which failed to chart. His second single on the label, “She’s My Woman” gave the singer his first Billboard chart entry. Although it actually sounds a bit like a gospel number, the flipside “All the Praises” is actually also a love song.
Travis, who would soon move to Nashville and perform as Randy Ray before taking the name by which he’s best known, would have his next chart hit in 1985 — a chart-topping classic called “On the Other Hand.” It was the first of 11 Number One records he would achieve in the next five years.
But back in 1978, even though he’s clearly got the deep, rich country voice for which he would become world-famous, young and photogenic Randy Traywick was still a bit uneasy on camera for his performance of “All the Praises” — though it’s hard to blame him considering the creepy-basement look of the Ken Linker Variety Hour set. Still, there’s no mistaking the beginnings of an exceptional career, which has brought him dozens of honors, including six Grammys and induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016. That ceremony also marked Travis’ first public performance — a brief snippet of “Amazing Grace” — after suffering a debilitating stroke in 2013.