Randy Howard was an early ‘80s country star who toured with the likes of Willie Nelson and released novelty numbers like “All American Redneck” (“He’s got a pick-up truck/he loves to fuck”) and “My Nose Don’t Work No More” which is, obviously, about snorting too much cocaine. Unfortunately, like all the best country musicians, he seemed to write it how he lived it, and yesterday in Tennessee he was shot and killed by a bounty hunter.
According to Billboard, Howard was subject to an outstanding warrant for “fourth-offense DUI, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm while intoxicated and driving on a revoked license.” (“All American Redneck” doesn’t seem so funny, now, does it.) After Howard missed his court appearance, an unnamed bounty hunter went looking for him at his house in Lynchburg, after which Howard reportedly opened fire. The bounty hunter returned fire, killing Howard at 65.
Just days ago, John Oliver launched into a salient screed against bounty hunters in relation to the deeply flawed US bail bond system. In Tennessee, it’s relatively easy to become a bounty hunter—you just need to meet basic requirements which include being felony-free, having some sort of criminal justice experience in the form of an apprenticeship or an associate’s degree, and being in the employ of a bail bondsman. This particular case is being reviewed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, but a spokesperson did not say whether the bounty hunter who killed Howard acted out of hand.
In a 1983 issue of Billboard about the difficulties of getting country radio stations to play Howard’s music on air, a columnist wrote, that the problems with “All American Redneck” were its “reference to a smokeable drug substance and a posterior portion of the human anatomy.” To boost airplay, the record label sent out “promotional kits containing white socks with the record’s title, bumper stickers, logo pins, a combination pocket knife, an ‘official redneck quiz,’ and a recipe for pool hall chili, a reference to the song’s lyrics.”
All American Redneck was Howard’s biggest hit, but he released a few more albums; his last was a retrospective released in 1988, was titled Randy Howard, and featured songs like “Ring of Fire,” “There’s No Way To Fight A Memory,” and “Played The Game And Paid The Price.” :(
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