Randy Owen

portraitrandyBorn and raised in Welland, Ont., Randy's award-winning broadcasting career began with two consecutive awards for the top mark in radio class at Niagara College. While a first year college student, he began working evenings and weekends at 1470 CHOW, his hometown country music station. Eventually, Randy worked his way to mid-day announcer and music director.

Randy spent nine years working afternoon drive at CKGL in Kitchener and went on to become music director. In 1988, he became the first (and only) person to win both national Canadian country music awards (RPM Big Country Awards, Canadian Country Music Association) for on-air personality in the same year.

In 1997, Randy hosted the popular cross-Canada country music request show "Cryin'', Lovin'' or Leavin''" via satellite for three years.

Randy came to Tillsonburg and Country 107.3 in October 2007, bringing a wealth of experience and love of country music, from the classics to today's hits.

Other career highlights include emceeing a concert in October 2009 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, serving as the voice announcer for the Ontario country music awards show, and inducting guitar great Wendell Ferguson into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Randy has interviewed a long list of country music personalities, including Johnny Cash, Johnny Reid, Garth Brooks, Gord Bamford, Vince Gill, Terri Clark, Faith Hill, Paul Brandt, Waylon Jennings, Shania Twain, George Jones and many, many more! And you may catch him singing a Cash or Haggard song at a jam or concert in the area.

Join Randy weekdays from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

The Story Behind the Song: A Boy Named Sue

Randy Owen
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48 years ago today, Johnny Cash scored his 10th #1 hit on the country charts with "A Boy Named Sue."  It peaked at #2 on the pop chart, his highest position on that chart (blocked from reaching #1 by The Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman") and reached #1 on the Canadian country chart on the same date it reached the top of the American country singles chart.  Almost a year later, Johnny presented an autographed gold record to Sue Hicks, a judge in South Dakota.  But Shel Silverstein, who wrote the song, said the judge was NOT the inspiration behind the song.  It WAS inspired by a friend of Silverstein's, a humourist named Jean Shepherd (NOT the country singer), who was often teased about his female-sounding name.  There have been a few different stories of how Cash got song.  But he once said, "The week before I went to play San Quentin, we had a party at my house, a guitar pull.  One right after the other, Bob Dylan sang 'Lay, Lady, Lay,' Graham Nash sang 'Marrakesh Express,' Joni Mitchell sang 'Both Sides Now,' Kris [Kristofferson] sang 'Me and Bobby McGee,' and Shel Silverstein sang 'A Boy Named Sue.'  I asked Shel to write down the lyrics to it."  At San Quentin prison, the concert was recorded for a live album and filmed for television.  Johnny's wife, June, asked if had the lyrics to the song.  Johnny said he had but could do the song because he never had the chance to rehearse it.  June advised him, "Take the lyrics, put it on the music stand and read it off as you sing it.  They'll love it."  And that's exactly what happened.  It wasn't planned to be performed on the show, but Johnny did it anyway.  His band, with Carl Perkins on guitar, without knowing the song, simply improvised.  The words "son of a bitch" were edited, bleeped out, on both the single and album releases (although some later releases have removed the censoring sound) and Cash often made his own bleep-sound at that point when performing the song in concert.  Silverstein also recorded the song, but the phrase was replaced with "heartless hound."  Silverstein also wrote and recorded "The Father of A Boy Named Sue" in 1978, telling the story in the song from the father's point-of-view.

Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash

Celebrating Birthdays Today:  John Abrams, of The Abrams, marks another year around the sun; singer/songwriter Shelly Fairchild turns 40; singer and bassist Ira Dean of Trick Pony turns 48; and singer/songwriter Rex Allen Jr., son of the famous movie-star cowboy singer, turns 70.

Also Born on This Date:  Tejano singer Emilio, in 1962 (he died last year); and singer/songwriter Tex Williams, in 1917 (he died in 1985).

Passages:  Canadian fiddle legend Al Cherny in 1989, at age 56 (he appeared on CBC-TV's "Country Hoedown" and "The Tommy Hunter Show" for almost 25 years).

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 August 2017 07:48 )

Success in Just 5 Short Years

Randy Owen
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Happy 38th birthday today to singer/songwriter Tim Hicks!  Originally from Niagara Falls, Ont., Tim has enjoyed an award-winning career in just the past five years.  He's had a dozen singles released since his debut, "Get By," in late 2012.  That single and "Stronger Beer" have both achieved platinum status in Canada, with three more singles reaching gold, while his most recent single, "Slide Over" (an excellent music video, too, BTW), peaked at #2 on the Billboard Canadian country music chart.  The 2014 Canadian Country Music Association Rising Star won the Country Music Association of Ontario Male Artist award this year.  With a string of successful albums, including a live album released earlier this year and a dynamic stage presentation, it's hard to see all the hard work that went into his career before his success.  He took music lessons at the Ontario Conservatory of Music at the age of six and worked his way up the business doing bar gigs, sometimes as a solo entertainer (and as part of a Beatles tribute band), to get to where he is today.  Even with all the success he's enjoyed in the past few years, you can't help but feel there's a lot more to come Tim's way!

Tim Hicks
Tim Hicks

Also Celebrating Birthdays Today:  singer/songwriter George Canyon turns 47; singer Mila Mason turns 54 (her mom was a singer on the road); singer/songwriter Ricky Lynn Gregg (who had a few chart hits in the mid-1990's) turns 56; and singer/songwriter Collin Raye (who once got fired from a club date for sneaking out to see Waylon Jennings in concert - he said it was worth it) turns 57.

Also Born on This Date:  singer/songwriter Holly Dunn, in 1957 (she died of cancer last year); and Grand Ole Opry comedian Rod Brasfield, in 1910 (he died in 1958 - Brasfield did a ventriloquist act with a dummy named Bocephus, whom Hank Williams nicknamed his son after).

Passages:  songwriter Jerry Lieber (who co-wrote such hits as "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock" and "Stand By Me") in 2011, at age 78; Oliver "Mooney" Lynn (Loretta's husband) in 1996, at age 69.

Induction:  the amazing Roy Clark was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1987.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 August 2017 07:47 )

Carrying Cash

Randy Owen
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I've finished reading an amazing book, Julie Chadwick's "The Man Who Carried Cash:  Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash and the Making of an American Icon."  It will surprise many people to learn Johnny's manager from about 1960 through the most tumultuous times of his career (and life) up to the mid-1970's was Saul, a Canadian from London, Ont.  A restauranteur and clothier, Holiff often arranged for touring artists to stop by and help promote his restaurant, eventually leading Saul to work closer and closer with one such new star, Cash, until Saul ended up managing Johnny.  Chadwick had an enormous amount of material to explore in writing the book.  After Saul died in 2005 (less than two years after Cash died), his son Jonathan found a storage locker filled with a treasure trove his dad had saved...letters, contracts, posters, and audio recordings, including tapes of calls between the manager and his star and an audio diary Saul had dictated.  Having produced the excellent documentary "My Father and the Man in Black," Jonathan reached out to Julie, a newspaper entertainment reporter, to put the story down in print.  The relationship between Saul and Johnny may seem strange on the surface, considering how completely different the two men were, but I can understand it, having had my own similar relationship.  The late Leonard Rambeau, Anne Murray and George Fox's manager, and I were two completely different people, almost opposites, but with a mutual respect for each other that lead to a relationship of complete honesty.  I believe Saul and Johnny has something similar.  Chadwick's book is an almost painful exposure of what Saul went through, trying to manage a man (before he attained his iconic status) who constantly fell from grace, whose drinking and pill-popping caused his near self-destruction, with cancelled concerts, no-shows and hotel room trashing the norm.  The book tries to address an interesting question, "why did Saul leave Johnny in the mid-'70's?," and even Saul himself once admitted he had underestimated Cash's popularity, which he thought would start to decline around that time.  My own theory is that Saul functioned at his best as a "fixer," putting out the fires his friend and client had seemingly caused on a regular basis during their relationship.  Once Johnny's life and career had settled down into a state of normalcy (as normal as can be expected in show business), I think Saul felt his role was over.  Chadwick has produced a well-written document on the important and often overlooked relationship that changed both men and changed country music.  The book makes an excellent companion piece to Jonathan's documentary, both of which I highly recommend.

Two points I would like to make.  One is that the Johnny Cash I met quite a few times starting in the late 1980's (I interviewed Johnny and June, and was their tour guide when they visited the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame when it resided in Kitchener, Ont.) was not the same Johnny Cash depicted in the book and documentary.  Sure, the rebelliousness emulated by today's younger generation was still there, but it was much more subtle and belonged to a man who had become a legend while growing as a person.  My second point is that it's time Saul was recognized and honoured on a national basis.  In addition to Cash, Saul also managed, for a time, Tommy Hunter, The Statler Brothers and even George Jones.  In 1970, RPM, the weekly Canadian trade magazine, presented Holiff with a special award as the Canadian music industry's man of the year.  The incredible story of the London, Ontario man who helped shape one of country music's biggest icons deserves, IMO, posthumous induction into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Man Who Carried Cash

Last Updated ( Monday, 21 August 2017 13:29 )

A Proud Poppa

Randy Owen
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Happy 62nd  birthday today to singer/songwriter Steve Wilkinson!  Born in Belleville, Ont., Steve had worked at a nuclear power plant when he lost his job to downsizing.  Struggling financially, he took menial jobs to provide for his family, but his passion for music, which extended to his children, would carry them to great heights in the music business.  I was a judge at the Canadian Open Country Singing Contest in Simcoe, Ont., in the mid-1990's.  While Amanda and Tyler would win the respective categories they entered, Steve won the Open's very first songwriting category.  Of the seven Wilkinsons singles that appeared on the American Billboard country chart from 1998-2001, Steve co-wrote over half of them.  A year after winning the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Fans' Choice award in 2000, they went to host the awards show the next year.  In the years since, Steve has been a proud father, watching the success of his kids (occasionally reuniting with them) and in the past few years has been relishing a new role, that of grandfather.

Steve Wilkinson
Steve Wilkinson

Also Celebrating Birthdays Today:  bluegrass musician Jimmy Mattingly, currently touring with Garth Brooks on his world tour, turns 55; singer/guitarist Dwayne Friesen, Southbound band member and member of the late Terry Sumsion's Trio, marks another year around the sun; and manager and Rocklands Talent founder Brian Edwards adds another candle to his birthday cake.

Also Born on This Date:  singer and actress Molly Bee, in 1940 (she died in 2009); and pop singer Johnny Preston, in 1939 (he died in 2001).

Passages:  Kenny Edwards, an original member of The Stone Poneys, in 2010, at age 64; Maurice Bolyer, "Canada's King of the Banjo" and regular on Tommy Hunter's TV show since 1965, in 1978 at age 57; Cousin Jody, whose real name was Clell Summey and who often joined the country comedy team of Lonzo & Oscar onstage, in 1975 at age 55; 

Recovery:  five years ago today, Highway 101 member "Cactus" Moser was in a serious motorcycle accident in South Dakota, requiring the amputation of his leg above the knee.  The drummer has recovered and continues to perform.  His wife, singer Wynonna Judd, was not injured in the accident.

Reunion:  31 years ago today, folksingers Ian & Sylvia reunited for a concert (their first in 11 years) at the Kingswood Music Theatre in Maple, Ont.  Joining them were Judy Collins, Emmylou Harris and Murray McLauchlan.

Station Visit:  seven years ago today, the members of Canadian country group Jo Hikk stopped by Country 107 3 in Tillsonburg, Ont., for a live interview and performance.

Last Updated ( Friday, 18 August 2017 07:56 )

Life and Death

Randy Owen
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Thomas Rhett became a dad on the weekend when his wife, Lauren, gave birth to a baby girl on Saturday.  Welcome to the world Ada James Akins!  She arrived at 10:28pm in Nashville after mom went through a day-and-a-half of labour!  On social media, Thomas said his wife "is by far the strongest human being I have ever met and I have a new found respect for moms around the world."  Thomas and Lauren became parents for the second time in three months, having adopted Willa Gray Akins, a toddler from Uganda.  In a very cute video Thomas posted, Willa, wearing a "Big Sister" t-shirt, gave her new sister a gentle kiss on the head and stroked her fine hair.  Congratulations to the rapidly growing family!

Thomas Rhett

And one of the most important country music industry builders has passed away.  Jo Walker-Meador died Tuesday at the age of 93 in Nashville.  She had been an office manager for the Country Music Association (CMA) when it was created in 1958.  Jo took over as executive director in 1958, holding that position until 1991.  During her time, the CMA held a fundraiser to build the Country Music Hall of Fame, started their annual televised awards show in the 1960's, and began Fan Fair, the forerunner to the current CMA Festival.  Several honours came her way including induction into the Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Leonard T. Rambeau International Award from the Canadian Country Music Assocation in 1998.  I briefly met her during one the many times she attended CCMA events, offering her expertise, advice and support to the Canadian country music industry.  Around the time the CMA began, there were only 81 full-time country radio stations.  At the time of Jo's retirement, the number had grown to over 2,400!  Sincere condolences to her family and friends.

Celebrating Birthdays Today:  Colton Swon, of The Swon Brothers, turns 29 (he and brother, Zach, competed on "The Voice" in 2013); singer/songwriter Maria McKee, member of the band Lone Justice, turns 53; actor Sean Pean turns 57 (he directed Shania Twain's "Dance With the One That Brought You" music video); and singer/songwriter Kevin Welch turns 62.

Also Born on This Date:  singer/songwriter Wayne Raney in 1921, who had only 1 hit, "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me" in 1949 (he died in 1993 at age 71).

Last Updated ( Thursday, 17 August 2017 07:24 )

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