Dolly Parton confirmed on Thursday, Jan. 21 that her brother Randy had died at age 67 after a battle with cancer, sharing the news on her Facebook page. "The family and I are grieving his loss but we know he is in a better place than we are at this time," she wrote. "We are a family of faith and we believe that he is safe with God and that he is joined by members of the family that have gone on before and have welcomed him with joy and open arms."
Randy was also a singer/songwriter and recently appeared on his sister's 2020 Christmas album, A Holly Dolly Christmas, singing "You Are My Christmas" with Dolly and his daughter Heidi. He played guitar and bass in Dolly's band for years and also performed with his own band, Moonlight Bandits. He sang on the soundtrack of the 1984 movie Rhinestone and has had his own show at Dolly's theme park, Dollywood, since 1986.
"Randy was a great singer, writer, and entertainer," Parton's post continued. "He sang, played guitar and bass in my band for many years." The 75-year-old added that her brother headed his own show at Dollywood and charted several records of his own, calling their duet "Old Flames Can't Hold A Candle To You" "a highlight in my own career."
"'You Are My Christmas,' our duet on my latest Christmas album, joined with his daughter Heidi, will always be a favorite," she continued. "It was his last musical recording and he shined on it just like he’s shining in heaven now. He is survived by his wife Deb, his daughter Heidi, son Sabyn, grandsons Huston and Trent. We will always love him and he will always be in our hearts, Dolly Parton and Family."
Randy was the eighth of 12 children born to his and Dolly's parents, Avie Lee Caroline and Robert Lee Parton Sr, in Sevierville, Tennessee. Like several of his brothers and sisters, he was interested in music and went on to have a career as a country artist. The siblings' brother Larry Parton died four days after his birth in 1955 and Floyd Parton, who was a longtime songwriting partner of Dolly's, died in 2018.
In October, Parton shared that she was inspired to write "You Are My Christmas" while thinking about Randy, who she called her family's "Christmas baby." "We used to cry for one of those walking, talking dolls, when we were kids, that we'd see in the catalog," she said in a video on her website. "Or some of our relatives that had a little more than we did, they'd get one. So I remember the year that Randy was born around Christmas, Mama said, 'Hey, come here, look. We've got your own walking, talking doll.'" Those wishing to honor Randy may donate to the Imagination Library in honor of both Randy and his father, Robert Lee Parton.