On This Day: Randy Travis Releases Debut Album, ‘Storms of Life,’ in 1986

by Jim Casey
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With his distinctive, rich baritone, Randy Travis helped country music return to its traditional-sounding roots in the mid-1980s. Randy steered country music away from its poppy Urban Cowboy daze by releasing his debut album, Storms of Life, on June 2, 1986.

The album featured Top 10 hits “1982” (No. 6), “On the Other Hand” (No. 1), “Diggin’ Up Bones” (No. 1), and “No Place Like Home” (No. 2). The 10-song offering eventually peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart in August 1986.

Country Roots

Born in 1959, Randy Travis grew up in North Carolina in the 1960s and 1970s listening to his parents’ music: Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, and more. In addition, his favorite singers where Merle Haggard, George Jones, Hank Williams Sr., and Lefty Frizzell. With an appreciation of the legends who came before him, it’s no surprise that Randy leaned heavily on a traditional sound when he began recording music.

However, during the early 1980s, Randy was rejected by just about every label in Nashville—some of them more than once. But in 1985, Warner Bros. Nashville took a chance on the 26-year-old and released “On the Other Hand” on July 29. The tune peaked at No. 67 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart. It wasn’t exactly a hit, but it afforded Randy the opportunity to release his sophomore single “1982” in December 1985. The tune became Randy’s first Top 10 hit in April 1986. Now the wheels were in motion.

Oddly enough, Warner decided to re-release “On the Other Hand” on April 21. And Randy followed up by dropping his debut album, Storms of Life, on June 2, 1986. By July, “On the Other Hand” had topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart—and Randy never looked back as Storms of Life reached No. 1 in August.

Randy Takes Off

Randy continued to have success with singles from his debut album. “Diggin’ Up Bones” ascended to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in November 1986, while “No Place Like Home” peaked at No. 2 in March 1987.

The RIAA certified Storms of Life as Platinum for sales of 1 million units in February 1987. In 1992, the album was certified as 3X Platinum for sales of 3 million units. Only Randy’s 1987 sophomore album, Always & Forever, has sold more copies (5X Platinum).

During his career, Randy scored more than a dozen No. 1 hits and sold more than 18 million units, according to the RIAA. He also packed his trophy case with six Grammy Awards, five CMA Awards, and 10 ACM Awards. Randy, who suffered a near-fatal stroke in 2013, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

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