FEATURED CALGARY CITIZEN: Randy Stark
After the latest announcement that Calgary will be welcoming the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame into Studio Bell, it comes as an exciting surprise to learn that Calgarian-born, Randy Stark has been inducted into the hall of fame.
Stark has made some big moves in the legacy of his career since he started out at London Records here in the city in 1972. Now with more than five decades behind him, he’s proudly held positions at a variety of different labels, A&M Records and Warner Music Canada where he worked with names, such as George Fox, Paul Brandt, Patricia Conroy, The Johner Brothers, Blue Rodeo and more.
Stark also started his own management company, Stark Management in 2000, owns and operates his own ratio charting service, and has collected many other career accolades to be proud of along the way.
We sat down with Stark to learn how Calgary influenced his career in country music and get a sneak peek into some of the proudest moments of his career!
Where did you grow up in Calgary, how long did you live here?
“I grew up in various cities in Alberta before moving to Calgary in the late sixties and then settling in the city’s North West, Brentwood and Dalhousie. I attended William Aberhart and Sir Winston Churchill High Schools before moving back and forth between Calgary and Vancouver, leaving Calgary for the last time in 1984. In all, I lived in Calgary for 15 years but still consider the city my hometown.”
What are your fondest memories of the city?
“I love that Calgary is a lifestyle city. The Bow River for floating and fly fishing, one of the best trout rivers in the world! Easy access to the mountains, skiing at Sunshine and Lake Louise, and of course, every July we had the Stampede. What really made my time special in Calgary however were the high school friendships that I made and still maintain (many) to this day. We were a very close-knit group.”
Did you have any musical influences or experiences in Calgary that influenced your career or passion for music?
“Just after high school, I became a big fan of a local band called ‘Friends.’ They were a four-piece acoustic, four-part harmony, and played the songs of the ‘California sound’ — think The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, CSNY. Man, could they sing and play!
One of the principals in the band was Jim Foster who was also a guitar teacher. I signed up for lessons with Jim and soon realized that I was paying my $20 each half-hour mainly just to hear him play! Jim went on to form Fosterchild, signed to CBS Records and became a very good songwriter and successful artist. Later, when I was with Warner Music, I had the opportunity to release one of Jim’s songs (Here We Go Again) as a single for Patricia Conroy. Jim and I remain friends to this day.”
How would you describe the evolution of your career from when you started to where you are today and what have you learned over that time?
“My history in the music business started in Calgary, at the lowest level, picking orders in a record warehouse. I was able to move up with some great companies, such as A&M Records, GRT and then Warner Music Canada. Each level was just going up a step — from warehouse order picker to warehouse manager to sales rep to radio promotion rep to branch manager and then finally, with Warner, as Vice President of Marketing and Promotion.
Each step of the way, I had the benefit of great mentors and teachers. They taught me ‘the business’ of music. Each one of them had a passion for music, great respect for the artists and songwriters and the ability to connect the dots to build artist careers. The key to each of them is that everything started from the song. I listened and I learned. In 2000 when I struck out on my own and formed a radio promotion and artist management company. I drew from my experience and applied the key fundamentals that each of my mentors had drilled into me.”
How does it feel to be included in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame this year?
“It’s a bit surreal actually. I was a CCMA Board member for a number of years and always took very seriously the Hall Of Fame induction process and had great respect for those artists and builders that were inducted each year. To be in their company, those people that I truly admire is truly an honour. There are so many deserving people in this industry and to be chosen to be included in the Hall of Fame is very humbling indeed.”
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