A Musical Journey
It seems only fitting that the spark which would ignite the fire that burns within my soul would find its kindle at a wedding, the coming together of two individual forces that emerge united, carving a path forward awash with renewed wonder and possibility. As the band played at this wedding, I found myself captivated by the guitarist, mystified by the sound he created. At that moment, I knew, with a sense of clarity and utmost certainty, this is what I wanted to do.
I have vivid childhood memories of my brothers and me sitting in our living room watching in awe as our Father, John McMillan, played lap steel guitar. In a group of three steel players in the mid-to-late 1930s, he would perform at various local venues and during intermission at movie theaters. I began plucking my Dad’s Dobro strings at the age of 8, not fully understanding a Dobro isn’t meant to be played in the same manner as a traditional guitar. My father told me that if I learned to play my mother’s favorite song, “Honeycomb” by Jimmy Rodgers Jr, he would buy me a guitar. With that singular goal in mind, I set about teaching myself. Through the blisters and the pain, I persevered on that Dobro and soon earned my reward - a 1961 Danelectro.
In 1962, Dennis Orris and I, along with other friends from our neighborhood, formed our first band, The Sensations. I later joined the band The Mysterions with my best friend, Tim Phillips, on drums. After some changes, we officially became The Ruins with Dennis Girard on rhythm guitar, Paul Ferda on bass guitar, and Tim’s brother Harry Phillips who played the organ on our recordings. Possessing certain magic that is hard to come by, The Ruins signed a record deal with Mutt Records out of Inkster, Michigan. In 1966, just before my fifteenth birthday, the label picked two of our recordings to release on 45 single, “The End” and “Take My Love and Shove It Up Your Heart.” The End is considered one of the Top 100 1960’s Garage Punk classics and was covered in 2015 by a French band, The Missing Souls.
After years of session work and playing clubs, I found myself writing songs that seemed to fit within the country music genre. These songs would lead to the formation of Gunslinger in 1988, and the hunt for a vocalist capable of conveying the sentiment in my lyrics would begin. It was in a karaoke bar where Fate Dotson (the irony not being lost on me), with a voice often mistaken for Travis Tritt, would be found. In 1990, Gunslinger released its first country album, “Hired Guns.” I was later called to Nashville by Gary Buck, owner of Broadband International Records and President of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. Upon listening to a collection of new songs I’d submitted to a platform bringing songwriters’ material directly to music producers, he offered us a record deal. Gunslinger released “Can’t Get Enough” under the Broadband label in 1997, which was never adequately marketed despite being popular and well-loved. Looking to expand marketing efforts and further our career, Gary connected us with Step One Records. Unfortunately, we later learned Step One was in litigation, and their assets were seized along with our recorded material when their lawsuit failed to win in court. We then signed with Dynasty Records, who, in seeing the missed opportunity in our previous album, decided to release a new album titled “Kickin’ It Up” in 2003, which included the music from Can’t Get Enough along with three new tracks. This album brought marked success, including tour dates with Travis Tritt. However, due to differing opinions and marketing concerns, Gunslinger parted ways in 2004.
I’ve spent the years since focusing on family and building a thriving transportation company with my beautiful and supportive wife, Gloria (Glo). After selling the company in 2017 and feeling the itch to return to the unfinished business of making music, I embarked on the journey of creating the King of Clubs album. Given the honor of officiating my eldest son’s marriage, I became ordained in 2017 and have officiated four weddings since, earning the Reverend Randy Mac moniker. The Reverend Randy Mac King of Clubs album is the culmination of my life’s journey, from the exquisitely beautiful to the painfully raw. It revisits my native Detroit Rock sound, bridging the gap of my early days in The Ruins to the Gunslinger era and, finally, to the soulful blues that calls to me today. I laid bare my soul on these tracks. It’s my enduring hope they find their way into many hearts, perhaps even providing that certain spark that lights the fire within.