Randy VanWarmer

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Randy VanWarmer
Birth name Randall Van Wormer
Born March 30, 1955
Origin Indian Hills, Colorado
Died January 12, 2004(2004-01-12) (aged 48)
Genres Rock, pop, soft rock
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, songwriter
Years active 1978–2004
Labels Bearsville Records

Randy VanWarmer (March 30, 1955 – January 12, 2004) was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. His biggest success was the pop hit, "Just When I Needed You Most". It reached No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart in September 1979[1] after peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart[2] and No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart[3] earlier that year. There are several cover versions of this song, including those by Dolly Parton and Smokie.

VanWarmer wrote several songs for the group The Oak Ridge Boys including the No. 1 U.S. Country hit "I Guess It Never Hurts to Hurt Sometimes." The song appeared on VanWarmer's 1981 album Beat of Love, which also included VanWarmer's 1980s style pop tune "Suzi Found a Weapon", which hit No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981.


He was born Randall Van Wormer, in Indian Hills, Colorado. He grew up in Colorado. At the age of 15, three years after the death of his father in an automobile accident, he moved with his mother to Cornwall, England in 1970. In a 1989 interview with "Release",[4] a now-defunct independent paper run out of Stanford, California, he said he remembered it as a depressing place, economically downtrodden, with long, dark and rainy winters. When he was still a teenager, a girlfriend from the United States came to England, spent several months with him, then returned to the U.S. VanWarmer had been writing songs and playing in South England folk music clubs for a while, and the experience with the American girl ultimately became his one hit song. In VanWarmer's mind, he has said, the song is really about the weather. "It's not hard to write a really sad song in the winter in Cornwall," Release quoted him as saying. Allegedly, he worked, for a while, in the Fish & Chip Shop close to the Three Pilchards pub on Quay Street in Polperro, Cornwall.

In 1979, after VanWarmer had struggled in obscurity for a few years, Bearsville Records in New York City released a VanWarmer single, "Gotta Get Out of Here," a mildly catchy pop tune. "Just When I Needed You Most" was the B-side of the single. Somewhere, on a whim, a DJ decided to play the flip side instead, and it slowly rose to the Top 10 in a market saturated with disco. As VanWarmer told Release, Albert Grossman, the head of Bearsville, who was acting as VanWarmer's manager, would not let him do television or tour the United States, a strategy that did not prove successful.

His follow-up album, Terraform, was dark and (compared to his previous work) almost alternative. As Release described the record, it included a song relating the bitter post-death ruminations of a paranoid drowned man; a funny anti-love song; and a lengthy, catchy, metaphorical, almost epic pop piece about the destruction of the Earth and humankind's uncertain attempts to survive. According to Release, Terraform received some airplay on a Manhattan progressive rock radio station, where VanWarmer lived at the time; and it sold moderately in Japan and Australia; but in the United States it sank. Bits of it turned up elsewhere (most notably on Laura Branigan's debut album), but VanWarmer would later publicly rue his decision to turn away from dreamy ballads. He made two more records at Bearsville – Beat of Love, and Things That You Dream. Beat of Love included the single, "Suzi Found a Weapon", a tribute to a Bearsville public relations rep whom VanWarmer would later woo and marry, and which went to No. 1 in Alaska, and gained a certain amount of post mortem acclaim (for example, a rave by James A. Gardner in his "Allmusic"). But Grossman died soon thereafter, and VanWarmer's future was in doubt.

According to Release, in the mid 1980s, Suzie VanWarmer mailed a song called ""I Guess It Never Hurts to Hurt Sometimes" from Beat of Love to a friend at MCA, who sent it to Ron Chancey, the producer of the Oak Ridge Boys. His wife loved it, and she asked the Oaks to record it just for her. They did, and liked it enough to put it on their next album. Eventually it came out as a single, and hit number one on the country charts. Charley Pride recorded a song of his, so did Michael Johnson. Moving to Nashville, VanWarmer saw a recording of his song, "I'm in a Hurry (And Don't Know Why)", also hit number one on the country charts by the group Alabama.

VanWarmer continued to write music for others and for his own recordings, which continued to be artistically successful but commercially unsuccessful. He also helped other younger artists with their own songwriting efforts.

His final album was released posthumously only in Japan and was a tribute to Stephen Foster. According to the CD's liner notes, VanWarmer played all the instruments. The notes also indicate that he completed work on the record a few days after learning of his illness, and died one day prior to the anniversary of Foster's death, of leukemia, aged 48.

In line with one of his greatest loves, some of his cremated remains were sent into space in 2007, and then again in 2012 aboard the first successful private space flight to the International Space Station, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.[5]


  • Warmer – 1979
  • Terraform – 1980
  • Beat of Love – 1981
  • The Things That You Dream – 1983
  • I Am – 1988
  • Every Now and Then – 1990
  • The Third Child – 1994
  • The Vital Spark – 1994 (Alternate title: I Will Whisper Your Name)
  • Sun, Moon and Stars – 1996
  • Sings Stephen Foster – 2005
  • Songwriter – 2006


Year Single Chart Positions
1979 "Gotta Get Out of Here"
"Just When I Needed You Most" 4 71 1 32 5 8
1980 "Call Me"
"Whatever You Decide" 77
"Hanging on to Heaven"
1981 "Doesn't Matter Anymore"
"All We Have Is Tonight"
"Suzi Found a Weapon" 55
1988 "I Will Hold You" 53
"Where the Rocky Mountains Touch the Morning Sun" 72


  1. ^ UK Singles Chart info from chartstats.com
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 657.
  3. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of No. 1 Adult Contemporary Hits (Billboard Publications), pages 228–9.
  4. ^ Drachman, Steven. "Randy VanWarmer's Life After the Song". Release. Retrieved 2-5-12.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ cnn.com on May 24, 2012 – http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/24/showbiz/spacex-scottys-ashes/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

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