Gentleman Gary

Every once in a while an individual graces this earth who touches the hearts of all he meets. Gary Randall was such a soul. Just writing his name in the past tense brings a tear to the eye. Gary died Saturday from the cancer he’s been fighting for a long time. He was not only one of the most talented musicians and songwriters ever to come out of South Dakota but a person who lived his faith and truly loved others as himself. In turn, we all loved Gary..none more than his wonderful wife Deb along with  sons, Jason,  Troy, Chad their wives and families.

A few years ago, I wrote a letter nominating Gary for a lifetime achievement award and membership into the Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association’s Hall of Fame. He received that award at the annual presentations last Spring. He also performed a short concert all by himself on that big stage and received the accolades from the audience he so richly deserved.
Thought I might share the letter I sent to the board of directors with you here not for my gratification but his.
I’m not positive but I think the first time I met my friend, Gary Randall was when I saw him playing with his band at the Airport Holiday Inn lounge in Sioux Falls in 1969 or 70. I just couldn’t get over his soulful voice.
The next time we met, Gary was working solo at one of the clubs in town in the early 70’s and we struck up a friendship. Back then, musicians would work for one or two weeks at a place..sometimes more 5 or 6 nights a week. You could actually make a living at it. When my brother, Denny Lund and Pat Clark opened up a bar called “The Sting” in the old Depot, they hired Gary to play on a regular basis and I’ll never forget how patrons..especially me..enjoyed his incredible voice and use of all five fingers to pluck all six strings to make his acoustic guitar sound like an orchestra.
I suppose, Gary Randall might be considered more of a balladeer than a rock and roller but, everybody who ever played in a band knows..if you want to fill a dance floor..crank out a ballad and no one sings a ballad better.
I liken Gary to David Gates, lead singer of “Bread”, Larry Gatlin, Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie or, close your eyes and he’s Don Henley when singing “Desperado.”
When Linda and I started dating in 1980, we rarely missed a Gary Randall performance. (Our song: “My Sweet Lady.” )He played it at our wedding in 1984..and still does without asking today whenever our paths cross at a venue.
Many years ago, Gary began devoting the lion’s share of his talent to his faith; performing primarily in churches for offerings and recording sales; occasionally playing a club or other special event..including several appearances on Keloland TV’s early News at Five.
It was such an honor to cause any spotlight to shine on this amazing talented man. Gary Randall really does put the “gentle” in the word gentleman. In recent years, Gary has suffered a devastating fall from a ladder that put him out of commission for a time..but he bounced back with a smile and positive attitude. Now, he’s dealing with yet another health struggle.
I can honestly think of no South Dakotan who deserves the distinction of being honored in the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than my friend, Gary Randall.
May the God he served so well now grant him a special place in the greatest Hall of Fame..Heaven.
Below is a wonderful example his skills as a singer, writer, guitarist and Christian.


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  1. Thanks for the great tribute to such a wonderful singer, songwriter, person, family man and friend. I want to wish him a true “Welcome Home” My old friend. RIP Gary.

  2. Sorry I never heard him sing or play when I lived in S.D–beautiful voice, intriguing guitar style–soft yet powerful. RIP to a talented man and musician. Nice write up, Doug.

  3. After hearing the recording, I’m sorry I never got to hear him perform when I lived in S.D. Great voice and intriguing guitar style–soft but powerful. RIP to a talented man and musician. Nice tribute, Doug.

  4. What a wonderful tribute Doug. Whenever my path crossed Gary’s we would have great conversations. He never seemed to be in a hurry and always made you feel important. He’ll be missed.

  5. Rest in Peace, Gary! Sharon and I always loved hearing him, regardless of the setting. Many, many years ago he learned a Gordon Lightfoot song from one of my LPs (at my request), and almost from then on, when he saw me walk in, he would launch into “Beautiful.” Last May, he and I were the program and the annual pre-Memorial Day service at my old home church, St. Peter on the Prairie, and hearing Gary sing was just like the old days. Our sympathies to Debbie, their children and all of Gary’s family. We will all meet again, my friend! God bless your memory!

  6. Thank you for this well written tribute. I mai ly knew Gary as he sang the songs of his faith. His love for the Lord really shined through. Journey well, Mr. Randall. I look forward to hearing your voice sing again!!!

  7. Oh Doug-thank you for honoring Gary. You remain a great friend of his and you can expect that he is intereceding for you right know. A week before he went Home, he said, “Just imagine how much better I can intercede from Heaven!” You were often on his mind. Love you brother!

  8. Gary graduated with my mom and we had the honor of having him sing at her funeral in 1994, as well as all three of my sisters and I weddings. He was truly an angel.

  9. Gary was the most caring and faithful funeral singer ever.. when a classmate of his passed without a lot of local friends & family left in the area – one call and Gary served as singer & pall bearer.. He may have sang at more funerals / weddings ‘ anniversaries and celebrations than concerts… Thank you Gary for your friendship – sharing your talents & setting the example for how a true Christian behaves in public & private. RIP

  10. I remember hearing Gary’s voice fill our Trinity Lutheran Church in Madison, SD. Thanks for sharing this Doug. A comforting voice that will be missed. Prayers to the Randall Family.

  11. Very nice Doug. He was a dear friend to many of us. I was lucky to be a part of the band at the Holiday inn (red rock lounge )..He will be missed and always loved

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