Randy Craig was born November 17, 1954 in Upland, CA. At the age of seven, he saw Harpo Marx play the harp on television and asked his mother if she would buy him a harp. Harps were very expensive, so she purchased the next best thing, a piano for $65.
He took piano lessons for only one year because he wanted to play songs that people recognized. Gradually, he started to learn to play hymns by ear and learn chordal structure. One day, he entered a music store and saw sheet music to the “Sound of Music.” He noticed that there were letters above the right hand treble clef and figured out that they were chords to the right hand melody. This opened up a whole new world for him.
Randy gradually started improvising and expanding his abilities on the piano. One night he was watching television and saw Floyd Cramer play with a “bent note style” so he worked and worked how to duplicate it and it gradually turned it into a “slip note style” which is twice as fast a slip as the “bent note style.”
During the 1970s, Christian youth choirs were very popular throughout the United States, so Randy accompanied his church youth choir from 1972 until 1977 and expanded his style to include black gospel and jazz.
He realized that he would only be ½ half of a pianist the rest of his life if he couldn’t read music. So, in 1977, he auditioned at California Baptist University as a music major. He was told, “Everyone here has had piano lessons their whole life and you can’t read music – maybe this is not the best place for you.” He asked if they would give him a semester to try to get “up to speed” and he eventually graduated magna cum laude and received a BA in music after four years.
Randy views art and music as brother and sister. Playing by music can be the first step towards music creativity – just as painting by numbers can be the first step towards artistic creativity. Soon, the artist starts mixing shades of different colors to create a mood within the viewer. For example, there is a painting hanging at his house that has 32 different shades of green on one flower stem. In the same way, as you listen to his playing, Randy has learned to mix different chordal structures together to “paint with music” and create certain moods that reflect the lyrics of each Christian song.
Randy has played for over 50 years at the same Baptist Church, Stonebrooke Church, in Vista, California. We hope you enjoy his music as you worship the Lord together with him!