Randy Travis made headlines around the world when he was arrested in 2012 after he crashed his car in a construction zone, and was found naked in the road. Travis, who had also walked into a convenience store earlier that night, not wearing clothes and asking for cigarettes, was charged with driving under the influence, threatening police officers and retaliating against a police officer. He was later released after paying $21,500 bail.
Because Travis was charged with a felony, he knew he could be looking at a lengthy prison term, but he had no idea how much that one incident would affect his life and career. Within hours, news outlets all over the world had picked up on the story that one of country music's biggest icons had been arrested, and many shows subsequently canceled, but no one really knew the whole story.
For the first time, in his new memoir, Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life, Travis, along with his wife, Mary, opens up about what really happened that night. In the book, Travis reveals that he had not consumed too much alcohol, as was repeatedly reported, but that he had only two glasses of wine. Unfortunately, in an attempt to sleep earlier in the night, he took an Ambien, which set off the unfortunate chain of events.
"Everybody assumed that Randy had gotten drunk and went out and had a car wreck," Ken Abraham, co-author of Forever and Ever, Amen, told PopCulture.com. "That wasn't the story. But how do you defend yourself against that? Once something gets out there nowadays, it's almost hard to counteract that. Partially, that's why we wanted to face that story head on in the book and tell the truth about how it happened. And these guys were great. They didn't flinch at all about doing that. It's in the book."
Travis has never denied that he made some poor decisions leading up to his arrest, but he hopes that by sharing his story, others will be inspired by the way he has turned his life around.
"We all go through some valleys, or go through some tough times," Abraham said. "And we all do stupid things sometimes."
One year later, Travis suffered viral cardiomyopathy followed shortly by a stroke, and given a one to two percent chance of survival. But Mary refused to give up, praying, "God, please let me have him back – any way, shape or form."
"I think every day you just hope that everything goes away and it's all a bad dream and that this is not really what we expect out of life," Mary told PopCulture.com, recalling the unfortunate experiences "There's no manual that any of us are given that prepares us for something like that. Because, as far as the devastation from a stroke and viral cardiomyopathy, they had already approved him for a heart transplant three days after we got to the hospital. There was so much that was coming at us so fast. I knew what I was praying. I just wanted him alive, and I didn't care how it was."
Travis and Mary tied the knot after Travis' stroke, which robbed him of much of both his mobility and his speech, giving "in sickness and in health" an entirely new meaning.
"This to me is just as beautiful as if he was healthy and whole and still on the road," said Mary, motioning to her husband. "I was tickled to death the day that we finally left the fourth, fifth, hospital. It was right before Thanksgiving, and it was early one morning and we were going through the lobby at Baylor Rehab in Dallas. It was just the two of us, because it was so early in the morning. They made sure I could get him in the car and transfer him. We went through that hotel lobby and I remember him taking his left hand and go, 'Whoo!" It was just such a 'Hallelujah!' moment."
Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith is available for purchase on Amazon.
Photo Credit: Webster Public Relations