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Randy VanWarmer 1/2004

randy vanwarmerJanuary 12, 2004 – Randy VanWarmer was born Randall Van Wormer, the third of four boys, in Indian Hills, Colorado on March 30th 1955. His parents were very active in the community church, so Randy was practically born singing standards from the old Baptist hymnbook.

His father, Roger VanWormer, was killed in a car accident when Randy was 12. At 15, three years after the death of his father he moved with his mother to Looe, a small fishing village on the Southwest coast of Cornwall, England. It was here, during England’s long winter days that Randy began writing songs and playing the folk clubs around Cornwall.

While still a teenager, a girlfriend from the United States came to visit England, and spent several months with him. She then returned home and this experience with the girl ultimately became the inspiration for his one hit song.

VanWarmer has said however that the song “Just When I Needed You Most” is really about the weather. “It’s not hard to write a really sad song in the winter in Cornwall,he was quoted saying. Allegedly, he worked, for a while, in the Fish & Chip Shop close to the Three Pilchards pub on Quay Street in Polperro, Cornwall.

Later he said: “I would write 5 or 6 songs and carry them the 250 miles to London (by train) and knock on publishers’ doors. A publisher by the name of Ian Kimmet, working at Island Music, heard Randy’s songs and after several years acting as his mentor, signed the young writer to a publishing and record deal with the legendary manager and record mogul, Albert Grossman.

And in 1978, eight years after he moved to England, Randy moved to New York. His first record, JUST WHEN I NEED YOU MOST, written 5 years earlier when he was 18, became an international #1 record. Strangely enough the song was recorded as the B-side to a mildly catchy tune titled “Gotta Get Out of Here”. Somewhere, on a whim, a DJ decided to play the flip side instead, and it slowly rose to the Top 10 in a market saturated with late 70s disco. VanWarmer told Release Magazine in 1989 that Albert Grossman, the head of Bearsville would not let him do television or tour the United States, a psychological marketing strategy that did not prove successful for VanWarmer.

His follow-up album, Terraform, was dark and (compared to his previous work) almost alternative. As Release described the record, it included a song relating the bitter post-death ruminations of a paranoid drowned man; a funny anti-love song; and a lengthy, catchy, metaphorical, almost epic pop piece about the destruction of the Earth and humankind’s uncertain attempts to survive. According to Release, ‘Terraform’ received some airplay on a Manhattan progressive rock radio station, where VanWarmer lived at the time, and it sold moderately in Japan and Australia, but in the United States it sank. Bits of it turned up elsewhere (most notably on Laura Branigan’s debut album), but VanWarmer would later publicly rue his decision to turn away from dreamy ballads. He made two more records at Bearsville – Beat of Love, and Things That You Dream. Beat of Love included the single, “Suzi Found a Weapon“, a tribute to a Bearsville public relations rep and record executive for ABC and Warner Brothers, Suzi Blosser, whom VanWarmer would later woo and marry, and which went to #1 in Alaska and gained a substantial acclaim (for example, a rave by James A. Gardner in his “Allmusic”). But Grossman died soon thereafter, and VanWarmer’s future was in doubt.

Looking for better opportunities Randy moved to Los Angeles in 1982. His wife Suzi sent one of Randy’s songs to her friend, Jim Foglesong in Nashville and a few months later, the song, ‘I GUESS IT NEVER HURTS TO HURT SOMETIMES‘ became a #1 record for the Oak Ridge Boys. With her sound encouragement, the VanWarmer’s moved to Nashville in 1985. Randy recorded two albums for OPG’s 16th Avenue records and also had songs recorded by a host of Nashville acts including Alabama, Chet Atkins, Suzy Bogguss, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Doug Stone, Conway Twitty and Confederate Railroad. Randy co-wrote most of the songs on the Neal Coty CD, as well as the title track of Kenny Rogers CD ‘Across My Heart.’

Crossed over into Country music he spent the rest of his life around Nashville and recorded 3 more albums: one of which included the song ‘I’M IN HURRY (AND DON’T KNOW WHY’), ‘THIRD CHILD’ and ‘SUN, MOON AND STARS’.

His final album was released posthumously only in Japan and was a tribute to Stephen Foster. Randy VanWarmer died after a brave battle with leukemia at age 48 on January 12, 2004.

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