LORETTA LYNN & RANDY TRAVIS
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway, Aurora
Info: (630) 896-7676; riveredgeaurora.com
Updated: June 25, 2013 5:51PM
Country legend Randy Travis was at home when he heard of the passing of fellow country legend George Jones. The death didn’t come as a total surprise, however, since he had heard of the health issues Jones had faced in recent months. Yet, he found himself saddened by the loss.
“We had a lot in common,” Travis says. “Both of us are obviously just country boys who came up through years of playing at nightclubs before actually having a record deal. We were both, no doubt, traditionalists all the way through. And I learned so much about singing from George Jones just by listening to him. There was a stretch of years where every hit he had, I was learning them to sing in clubs.”
That wasn’t all they had in common.
There were the arrests and the mug shots and the times when these two very public figures surrendered to a drink or two or three. They indeed shared some demons that become nastier when illuminated by the light of the public eye. Yet, in both cases, when time was allowed to peel away the layers of public humiliation and embarrassment both men endured, they stood strong as two of country music’s most treasured voices of all time.
“I think that we all have to deal with certain setbacks and issues throughout our lives,” says Travis matter-of-factly. “But, despite the challenges, I’m making my way back to where I want to be.”
And where the 54-year-old wants to be is right where he is, back on the road performing for his fans a song that will forever remain as a breathtaking tribute to the country boy he shared so much with.
“I had a request through Warner Brothers to record the song as a tribute to George Jones, and after listening to it, I wanted to very much,” says Travis of his song “Tonight I’m Playin’ Possum,” the first single off his new album that’s set to be released this fall. “It’s just a wonderful piece of writing. And what I wanted to accomplish by doing it is simply what it is — a tribute to George. Many people in this business will say that he’s the greatest country singer that ever lived, and I agree. I thought a lot of him.”
Celebrating 25 years in country music, Travis’ successes within the country genre are hard to forget. He has sold over 25 million records and earned 22 No. 1 hits, six No. 1 albums, six Grammy awards, six CMA awards, nine ACM awards, 10 AMA awards, seven Dove awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also has made appearances in more than 40 feature film productions and major television projects, including a new Christmas movie he is currently filming.
Playing Aurora’s RiverEdge Park June 29 alongside the legendary Loretta Lynn, Travis says it feels better than ever to concentrate on what he does best.
“I love what I do onstage now more than ever,” says Travis, an inductee of the famed Grand Ole Opry in 1986. “As the years have gone by, I’ve become more comfortable on the stage. I like to talk to an audience and joke with them some. And I love to hear them laugh. Me and the guys have worked together onstage ranging from 10 to 34 years [in some cases]. It feels like family and there’s just something special that happens are far as how tight the group sounds. When everyone looks like they’re having fun that translates to the audience, and we truly do have fun.”
Tricia Despres is a local free-lance writer.