Born Randy Traywick on May 4, 1959, in Marshville, N.C., Randy Travis endured a difficult childhood -- but he found his salvation through music. Though his parents didn’t know at the time, their encouragement would lead their son to the Country Music Hall of Fame (just one of Travis' many career accolades).

As a teenager, Travis and his brother Ricky performed around town as the Traywick Brothers -- but in spite of their early popularity, the siblings often stayed on the wrong side of the law. In 1975, while his brother was in jail, Travis won a talent contest at a Charlotte, N.C., nightclub; the club's owner, Elizabeth “Lib” Hatcher, offered Travis a regular performance slot at the bar, as well as a job as a cook, and she became his manager.

Travis’ self-titled debut album, Randy Traywick, was released in 1978 on Paula Records, though it failed to produce any hit singles. However, in 1982, Travis and Hatcher, who had been dating and living together, moved to Nashville and earned the attention of Warner Bros. As Randy Travis, Travis released his debut album on Warner Bros., Storms of Life, in 1986. The first single, “On the Other Hand,” peaked at No. 67, but the second single, “1982,” landed in the Top 10; fresh off that success, the label re-released “On the Other Hand,” which this time shot straight to the top of the charts.

The success of Storms of Life kicked off a series of hits for Travis: Throughout his three-decade career, Travis has sold over 25 million records, notched a number of No. 1 albums and singles, earned six Grammy Awards and won the hearts of many fans with his beautiful baritone vocals. Travis also became a member of the Grand Old Opry in 1986.

In addition to his music, Travis turned his attention to acting, starring in a series of movies, including A Holiday to Remember, The Rainmaker and Baby Geniuses, among others; he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

By the start of the new millennium, Travis was focused on a career in gospel music, but he faced personal, legal and health troubles as his career waned: He divorced Hatcher in 2010 and was arrested numerous times in the years following. On July 7, 2013, Travis was hospitalized in critical condition due to complications of viral cardiomyopathy; while in the hospital, he suffered a stroke.

Since his stroke, Travis has been largely unable to speak (or sing); however, at his Country Music Hall of Fame induction in mid-October of 2016, Travis surprised those in attendance by singing a bit of "Amazing Grace." In 2019, he released a memoir.

Flip through the photo gallery below to learn more about Travis' life, and see pictures of the country star through the years:

WATCH: 5 Lessons We've Learned From Randy Travis

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