Randy Crouch (born April 1, 1952) is an Oklahoma-based multi-instrumentalist. In eastern Oklahoma, Crouch is best known as a fiddle player. Although he has been referred to as "the world's best rock fiddler," Crouch also plays guitar and pedal steel among other instruments.
Growing up the son of a Methodist preacher in West Texas, Crouch's early years were spent moving every few years from town to town in and around Amarillo and Lubbock. His parents provided a diverse musical background including piano lessons and Crouch also started playing ukulele and guitar. His grandfather, who played fiddle, had a big influence on him. Crouch learned to play fiddle from a Mel Bay mandolin instruction manual. Since the two instruments are tuned the same - a fiddle lacks the frets that make mandolin playing a little easier to do in key - it all transferred to the fiddle. During his freshman year of high school Crouch started playing in a band and has performed music ever since.
Three of Crouch's biggest musical influences were Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. Crouch stated that he is still trying to learn guitar parts to Hendrix' music.
Crouch refers to his songs as "Oklahoma Protest music" and has a long history of protesting against onslaughts against the environment. He lives in an electricity-free geodesic dome that he built on a former landfill site. In 1973, after the Public Service Company of Oklahoma announced that twin black nuclear power plants (named Black Fox 1 and Black Fox 2) would be built, Crouch along with many other Oklahomans took legal action against PSO and a protest movement ensued. As a result of his involvement in the protest, Crouch was blackballed for a time by music promoters in and around Tulsa, although he performed at least 50 "stop Black Fox" events around Oklahoma.
Crouch's music has been a foundation for Oklahoma's Red Dirt music, having been one of the earliest musicians of Red Dirt's epicenter - The Farm - located in Stillwater, Oklahoma. John Cooper, of the Red Dirt Rangers band, said that the camaraderie of the protests was central to the spirit that help form the Red Dirt movement.
Crouch also represents a variation of the The Tulsa Sound and has also been a primary influence on aspiring Oklahoma musicians performing bluegrass, folk, country music, and jam bands . In addition to performing as a solo artist, Crouch is a regular member of the Red Dirt Rangers band and is a member of the house band at the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, Oklahoma.
Crouch's live performances often include unusual techniques on a variety of instruments. "I once saw him play where he's over a steel guitar and a piano while he's playing fiddle," said Jim Blair, co-owner of Max's Garage and one of Crouch's musical compatriots. "In the middle of the song, he wants to tune up the fiddle, so he hits the A note on the piano with his fiddle bow and tunes the string and keeps on playing."
Crouch's songs "Big Shot Rich Man" and "Mexican Holiday" have been recorded by Jason Boland & the Stragglers. He played with Tulsa band South 40 when they recorded his song "Got Time to Party" for their 2006 release Home which also features guest spots by members of Asleep at the Wheel and George Strait's band. As a member of the Vince Herman Trio, Crouch performs with alumni of the jam bands Leftover Salmon and Ekoostik Hookah.
Crouch has been nominated for over twenty Oklahoma State Music Awards and in 2005 was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Awards Red Dirt Hall of Fame.
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