“I have a West Texas speech impediment. I grew up listening to Waylon Jennings, Buddy Holly and Buck Owens, and they were as much an influence as the Beatles and Stones were, so there’s no doubt in my mind I’m a country singer.” Roots rocker Radney Foster attempts to explain the amalgam of influences that makes him difficult to categorise as anything other than a masterful songwriter. He was born today in 1959.
Radney Foster was born in Del Rio, Texas, USA but first took to the stage in Tennessee while attending an Arts college. Encouraged by the positive response to his small-scale gigs and self-penned material he decamped to Nashville and was taken on as a staff songwriter by a publishing firm.
There he encountered fellow composer Bill Lloyd and the duo had various songs published, including “Since I Found You.” Signing a recording deal with RCA as Foster and Lloyd on the back of their publishing demo, the pair scored an immediate country hit with “Crazy over You” and went on to release a trio of long players between 1987 and 1990 that echo alternative acts such as The Blasters.
Opting to pursue separate solo careers at that point, Foster returned in 1992 with “Del Rio, Texas, 1959″ and a string of singles from that album occupied the country hit parade. More limited success came with “Labor of Love” two years later, while 1999′s “See What You Want To See” followed Foster’s divorce and estrangement from his son – a subject dealt with by the plaintive final track, “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams) – sung as a duet with Emmy Lou Harris and since covered by the Dixy Chicks.
Switching to the Dualtone label, Radney revisited his honky tonk roots with a live set, before adding some R&B to the mix for “Another Way to Go” in 2002 and a limited release acoustic record two years after. 2006′s “This World We Live In” sold comparatively poorly however despite glowing reviews and Foster worked as a producer for a time, while continuing to write material that the likes of Keith Urban popularised.
The first fruits of setting up his own record label – Devil’s River – came with the “Revival” record in 2009, a self-described “spiritual” collection, chronicling a hectic but mixed time of his life: reuniting with his son, but enduring the death of his father and also turning 50.
A welcome return to performing with Robert Foster after a twenty year break came for a charitable cause and discovering some of their old spark, the pair went back into the studio and emerged with a fourth Foster and Lloyd album: 2011′s “It’s Already Tomorrow.” It’s a worthy – if belated – follow-up.
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And here’s some footage of Radney in action: