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Randy Yeuell Owen is a country music singer from the United States. He is most known for being the lead singer of Alabama, a country-rock band with colossal mainstream success in the 1980s and 1990s. Alabama became country music's most successful band, with over 20 gold and platinum albums, dozens of number one hits, and over 75 million albums sold during their tenure. Owen also makes a living as a solo artist. In late 2008, he released his solo debut, One on One, which charted two singles.
Randy Yeuell (Randy Yeuell) Owen was born on December 13, 1949, on a farm outside Fort Payne, Alabama, and grew up there. He is descended from English and Scottish ancestors. In ninth grade, he dropped out of high school, but he eventually returned and graduated from Fort Payne High School in 1969. Owen and his cousin Teddy Gentry began playing music together in the late 1960s. They enlisted the help of another cousin, Jeff Cook, to establish the Wildcountry band. They gave their first public performance at a high school talent event, where they took first place.
Owen placed his singing career on hold while pursuing an English degree at Jacksonville State University. He was also a Delta Epsilon Chapter member of Pi Kappa Phi. However, after his graduation, the three cousins moved into an apartment in Anniston, Alabama, and were pursuing a full-time music career by 1973. R.C.A. Records signed the band, now known as Alabama, to a recording contract in 1980, and they swiftly rose to country superstardom. Alabama had a significant impact on country music for the next twenty-two years, attracting a younger audience, spilling over into mainstream radio, and opening the path for groups to be popular on country radio.
Alabama has 21 gold, platinum, and multi-platinum albums under its belt, 42 #1 singles, and over 75 million albums sold worldwide. They starred on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They were honored as Artist of the Decade by the Academy of Country Music in 1989 and Country Group of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1999.
During the Academy of Country Music Awards telecast in May 2002, the band declared their retirement. Their American Farewell Tour took them across the country for the rest of 2002 and 2003. The group was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
Outside of Fort Payne, Owen has his own cattle ranch. He now serves on the Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees as an at-large member. In 2007, he served as a judge on Season 5 of Nashville Star, a country talent program.
Beginning July 21, 2012, Owen took over hosting duties for Country Gold, Westwood One's Saturday night classic country request show. (A year later, former Country Gold presenter Rowdy Yates relaunched his show's version as "The Original Country Gold" through Compass Media Networks protesting the format change.) On April 2, 2016, Owen's tenure as host ended, and Terri Clark took over the following weekend.
Owen and the other members of Alabama established an annual Alabama June Jam in Fort Payne, Alabama, from 1982 until 1997. The money raised from these activities was deposited into an escrow account that sends out grants to charities and schools. The Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, the Country Radio Broadcasters' Humanitarian Award, and the Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award have all been given to the group to recognize their efforts. Alabama also received the B.M.I. President's Trophy for Public Service has only been given four times in its history (and never before to a group). Owen and his fellow band members were also the first winners of Governor Bob Riley's "Spirit of Alabama" medal.
Owen is a strong supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on his own. In 1989, he founded "Country Cares for St. Jude Kids," a radiothon that raises funds for cancer research. This radiothon has raised nearly $800 million for St. Jude's, making it one of the most successful radio fundraisers in history. St. Jude's has given him the Michael F. Tamer Award in recognition of his continuing commitment.
Owen is also passionate about assisting underprivileged children. His annual golf tournament has earned over $1 million for the Alabama Sheriff's Department Youth Ranches since 1985.
Owen and his wife Kelly Owen were the principal supporters of the Kelly Owen Women's and Children's Pavilion at Baptist Health System of Alabama's DeKalb Regional Medical Center in Fort Payne, a charitably run hospital.
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