Alabama Lead Singer Randy Owen on His New Book
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," November 17, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Country music superstar Randy Owen of the famed group Alabama has just released his first solo album, as well as his autobiography. And our own FOX News Channel's Griff Jenkins has the inside story.
GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You could say he was born country, because more than 25 years since Randy helped found the band Alabama, the group's music still proves to be a Dixieland delight.
(MUSIC: "Dixieland Delight")
JENKINS: In his new autobiography, Randy Owen describes how the three constants of faith, family, and music helped him achieve his American dream.
Born into a Christian, traditional, southern-gospel-music household in rural Alabama, Randy recalls learning life lessons from the everyday struggle of growing up poor.
• Video: Watch the 'H&C' interview with country singer and author Randy Owen I Part 2
Fifty years later and having traveled the world over, Owen still lives on the same land his family lived for generations.
"If I relocated to any other spot on earth," he writes, "it might be heavenly, but it wouldn't be comfortable. It wouldn't be where my heart is, near the hearts of my mother, my two sisters, and all my other blood relatives. This mountain is our heart. This mountain is our home."
(MUSIC: "Mountain Music")
JENKINS: Between 1972 and 2002, Alabama earned 21 gold, platinum, and multi-platinum albums, 42 No. 1 singles, and have sold more than 73 million albums, but the reward wasn't without struggle.
Despite having a successful career, a wonderful wife, and three beautiful children, Randy struggled greatly with the death of his good friend, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, who was killed in an accident during the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
Owen credits his faith and belief in God for helping him make it through that tragedy.
Randy also became involved with the St. Jude Children's Hospital back in the '80s and continued his involvement, with other country music stars, when he started Country Cares, a radio-a-thon among national country music stars to raise money for the hospital. Since its beginning in 1989, Country Cares has raised nearly $345 million.
In 2003, after 30 years on the stage, Alabama made their final curtain call, but Randy says the group didn't want to break up. And in their hearts, Alabama lives on, even though their touring days are over.
(MUSIC: "Song of the South")
HANNITY: Joining us now is country music sensation, Randy Owen.
It's such an honor to meet you. I am a huge fan of Alabama and yours.
COLMES: How are you, sir?
HANNITY: What's the first thing I said to you when I saw you?
RANDY OWEN, SINGER: Sweet potato pie.
HANNITY: I've never had sweet potato pie.
OWEN: Oh, that's — it's one of — that's the standard menu down where I live.
HANNITY: I grew up, and I married a woman — a girl from Alabama.
OWEN: Well, then...
HANNITY: I didn't even know what rolled tide meant. You can enjoy that.
Well, congratulations. It's an honor to see you here. I played "The Best of Alabama" CD in the car. My kids know the songs by heart.
HANNITY: You know, and they love them all. Tell us what you've got going on here.
OWEN: Well, I did the new CD, "One on One." John Rich produced the CD.
HANNITY: He's phenomenal, isn't he? He's brilliant.
HANNITY: From Big and Rich.
OWEN: One of the true up and coming, if not the guy right now, as far as writing and everything.
OWEN: But for me, it was about the work I did with the kids at St. Jude. And it had been almost eight years since I'd actually went in and done a new song for country radio.
And the Country Cares program is done with country radio, and of course the country music fans. And they become partners in hope. And through that program that we started almost 20 years ago, some of the kids are living today and have families that I first met.
COLMES: That's great. You know, your own story here about — you met your wife, Kelly. She was 17...
OWEN: Seventeen when we got married.
COLMES: Seventeen when you got married. OK. And you kept it together.
OWEN: Oh, yes.
COLMES: I mean, you went through some changes. But...
OWEN: She's watching, by the way. So...
HANNITY: You better be nice to her.
COLMES: Do you want me to change my line of questioning?
OWEN: No, no, no.
COLMES: I mean, what you struggled through in terms of, you know, keeping your life together.
OWEN: What we struggled through, just living. Me working for tips, all of my college buddies are like, "What are you doing now?"
"Well, I'm playing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for tips."
And "Well, I'm a lawyer now."
And you know, "My doctor — my medical practice is going real good, you know."
COLMES: You felt a sense of competitiveness?
OWEN: I didn't — I didn't have anything, but I had the urge. I felt like, in my heart, and I felt like this as I write in the book — I felt like that God had a plan for me.
OWEN: And that he's had his hand on me and took care of me through some really, really tough times.
COLMES: That's inspirational. We're going to take a quick break. And we'll come right back and pick it right there with Randy Owen.
We're going to have more with Randy right after the break. Stay with us. More to come on "Hannity & Colmes."
COLMES: We now continue with Randy Owen.
You talk about how your friends become lawyers and doctors and doing OK, and you're playing for tips.
COLMES: Did you always think it was worth it? Did you ever say, "Why don't I just pack this in and go that route?"
OWEN: Almost. Almost. Because you know, you just never know what's going to happen. But I still felt like I had something to offer and that the group Alabama had something to offer. And so I hung in there. And when it started to happen, it was so fast, it just — it was just overwhelming almost.
HANNITY: Forty-two No. 1 hits, which is almost unheard of. You had some very tough times. Dale Earnhardt was a friend of yours. You suffered anxiety, depression.
OWEN: Yes. That was from trying to solve everybody's problems.
HANNITY: But how — how bad was it?
OWEN: Well, one of the things, like the first time I went to St. Jude, like for the first two years, I'd meet these kids and I'd meet these families. And here I am, the most — one of the most successful people in music that there is, with Alabama. And yet, the loss of my father at the same time, I didn't have a chance to mourn his death, because everybody's wanting me to get out there and make that money.
OWEN: And then all of this stuff. And all of a sudden, it just — I was overwhelmed, I guess.
HANNITY: But you found — your faith got you out of it. Because we only have about 10 seconds left.
OWEN: Oh, yes, absolutely.
HANNITY: Yes. So you're a very faithful, religious guy.
OWEN: Well, my mother, I hope she gets a chance to watch. But yes, she — she probably prayed me out of it.
HANNITY: Randy, good to meet you.
OWEN: My pleasure.
HANNITY: All right. And that is all the time we have left for this evening. Thanks for being with us.
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