Happy 25th: Red Steagall, BORN TO THIS LAND

Thursday, January 18, 2018
Happy 25th: Red Steagall, BORN TO THIS LAND

25 years ago this month, a renaissance man of the entertainment business released his debut album on Warner Brothers. (Mind you, it was actually the 12th album of his career, but it’s no less momentous in WB history for that fact.)

Russell “Red” Stegall has been around the block a few times at this stage of his life – he turned 79 last month – but there’s no arguing that he’s made good use of his time. He started out as a rodeo bull rider when he was a teenager, but that fell by the wayside when he was stricken with polio at 15 years old. In an effort to get back the strength and dexterity he’d lost in his arms and hands as a result of the disease, Red took up guitar and mandolin as an exercise in physical therapy, and it paid off. Not that he dove straight into music: he actually earned a degree in animal science and agronomy from West Texas State University and was planning to pursue a career in agricultural chemistry.

Instead, Red ended up taking a job as a music industry executive in Hollywood (he was responsible for discovering and signing Reba McEntire), which led to him starting a music career of his own. In addition, he’s been a movie and TV producer, hosted rodeo and racing shows, and had his own radio show (Cowboy Corner).

But, say, let’s focus on Red’s music career, shall we?

After doing time on labels like Capitol, ABC, and MCA, Red signed to Warner Brothers, where he released BORN TO THIS LAND in 1993. Taking a few pages from the playbooks of folks like Tex Ritter and Marty Robbins, Red teamed with producer Steve Gibson to record an album of cowboy songs, for lack of a better phrase, and as AllMusic.com put it, “his voice has a depth that gives the illusion that he was actually there for a lot of the stories he sings about.”

BORN TO THIS LAND is a modern-day cowboy classic, one which deserves to be heard by a larger audience. If you aren’t familiar with it already, it’s time to remedy that situation, buckaroo, and listen to it right now

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