Randy Owen (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Randy Owen (born December 13, 1949 in Fort Payne, Alabama) is the lead singer of country band Alabama.
Owen grew up on a farm near Fort Payne. His parents raised cattle, hogs, chickens, and cotton, and young Randy was often responsible for picking cotton or slopping hogs.
Owen dropped out of high school in the ninth grade. One of his former teachers convinced him that he had a chance to make a success of himself, so, even though he was older than the other students, he rejoined the ninth grade several years later and finished high school.
In the late 1960s, Owen and his cousin, Teddy Gentry began playing music together. They recruited another cousin, Jeff Cook, to form a band, which they called Wildcountry. Their first public performance was at a high school talent show, which they won.
Owen's music career was put on hiatus as he earned a degree from Jacksonville State University, where he help establish the Delta Epsilon chapter of Pi Kappa Phi. Upon his graduation, however, the three cousins moved into an apartment in Anniston, Alabama and by 1973 were pursuing a full-time music career. In 1980, the band, now called Alabama, were signed to a recording contract by RCA Records and quickly reached country superstardom. For the next twenty-two years, Alabama had a tremendous impact on country music, attracting a younger group of listeners, crossing over into pop radio, and paving the way for groups to be successful on country radio.
Alabama released 21 gold, platinum, and multi-platinum albums, had 42 No. One singles, and sold a total of over 73 million records. They have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and were named the Academy of Country Music's Artist of the Decade in 1989, and the Recording Industry Association of America's Country Group of the Century in 1999.
In May 2002, the band announced their retirement during the Academy of Country Music Awards telecast. For the rest of 2002 and 2003, they performed throughout the country in their American Farewell Tour. In 2005, the band was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Owen lives on his own cattle ranch outside Fort Payne. He currently serves as an at-large member of the Board of Trustees of Jacksonville State University. He is a judge on Season 5 (2007) of country talent show Nashville Star.
From 1982 through 1997, Alabama organized an annual Alabama June Jam in Fort Payne, Alabama. Proceeds from these events were put into an escrow account, which gives grants to charities and school organizations. In honor of their good works, the group has been the recipient of the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, Country Radio Broadcasters' Humanitarian Award, and the Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award. Alabama was also awarded the B.M.I. President's Trophy for Public Service, which has been awarded only four times (and never before to a group). Owen and his fellow band members were also the inaugural recipients of the "Spirit of Alabama" medal awarded by Governor Bob Riley.
On his own, Owen is a heavy supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He established "Country Cares for St. Jude Kids", the annual radiothon that raises money for cancer research in 1989. This radiothon, one of the most successful radio fundraisers in history, has raised over $280 million for St. Jude's. He has been honored with the Michael F. Tamer Award by St. Jude's for his continued support.
Owen is also interested in helping disadvantaged children. His annual (since 1985) golf tournament benefits the Alabama Sheriff's departments Youth Ranches, and has raised over $1 million.