Steve Wariner Biography

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25 December 1954, Noblesville, Indiana, USA. Wariner played in his father’s country group from the age of 10. One night he had a residency at a club near Indianapolis and the starring attraction, Dottie West, went on stage to harmonize with him. He then played bass for West and after that, for Bob Luman. Luman recorded several of Wariner’s songs, while Wariner revived Luman’s success, ‘Lonely Women Make Good Lovers’. He played for Chet Atkins, who took him to RCA Records as a solo performer. Wariner was offered, and rejected, ‘You Needed Me’, but in 1978 he had a minor US country hit with his own song, ‘I’m Already Taken’, which was subsequently recorded by Conway Twitty. After several other chart records (including ‘Your Memory’ and ‘By Now’), he had his first country number 1 in 1981 with ‘All Roads Lead To You’, but his follow-ups, ‘Kansas City Lights’, ‘Midnight Fire’ and ‘What I Didn’t Do’, were only moderately successful.

Keen to make records with a stronger country element, Wariner moved to MCA Records in 1985 and had further country number 1 hits with ‘Some Fools Never Learn’, ‘You Can Dream On Me’ (which he wrote with John Hall of Orleans), ‘Life’s Highway’, ‘Small Town Girl’, ‘Lynda’ (a tribute to actress Lynda Carter who played ‘Wonder Woman’), ‘The Weekend’, ‘Where Did I Go Wrong’ and ‘I Got Dreams’. He recorded duets with Nicolette Larson (‘That’s How You Know When Love’s Right’) and Glen Campbell (‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle’); the latter is one of the strongest influences on his work. After winning a Grammy and a CMA Vocal Event award for his contribution to Mark O’Connor’s ‘Restless’ in 1991, Wariner adopted a tougher image and sound for the highly successful I Am Ready, his debut for Arista Records. The follow-up Drive found similar chart success, although Wariner stated that he was never comfortable being a country star.

Not merely content with being viewed as a singer-songwriter, after a long gap Wariner made an instrumental album that showcased his virtuosity on his Takamine guitar. No More Mr Nice Guy featured guest appearances from Chet Atkins, Sam Bush, Vince Gill and O’Connor. Despite its critical success, the album proved to be Wariner’s final recording with the Arista label. He relocated to Capitol Records for the commercially successful Burnin’ The Roadhouse Down, which featured the country Top 5 hit ‘Holes In The Floor Of Heaven’. The follow-up Two Teardrops was a lesser work which nevertheless achieved gold sales. Wariner’s first album of the new millennium, Faith In You, was one of his strongest recordings to date but marked the end of his tenure with Capitol. The artist launched his own SelectOne label in 2003 with another excellent recording, Steal Another Day.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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