Meet The Minstrels
Founder and Director of the New Christy Minstrels and…
• Discovered and named John Denver.
• Steve Martin became a stand-up comic on my stage.
• Kenny Rogers and the First Edition came out of The NCM.
• Single-handedly rescued the word ‘minstrel’ from the landfill of Political Correctness. Successfully fought Columbia Records who refused to allow “racist word” to be associated with the label.
• Several later-on-important performers got their start with me: Michael Martin Murphey, Michael Johnson, The Hagers, Gary Mule Deer, Richard & Karen Carpenter (they were members of a group billed as The Spectrum, their first job), Michael Nesmith (sent him on the interview for The Monkees), Barry McGuire, of course, Gene Clark (later of The Byrds), The Back Porch Majority (originally The NCM ‘farm-team’), George McKelvey (big in Denver forever), etc. • Performed at Carnegie Hall.
• Wrote JFK’s favorite song, ‘Last Farewell,’ and that earned us our first invitation to The White House.
• Discovered by Bob Hope (at The Blue Angel in NYC), toured with him.
• Was Burl Ives’ writer & opening act in concert for more than thirty years, and he was my dearest friend. As I serve as custodian for nearly all of the Ives memorabilia, recently created a mobil museum, and shared it with family and friends on his 109th birthday (June 14th) at Newton, Illinois, Burl’s hometown.
• There’s a dentist in Cincinnati, OH, who loves my song ‘Today’ so much that he has the lyrics written on the ceiling of his office
• Owned a huge cattle ranch with Tennessee Ernie Ford, and worked with him quite often.
• My trio (RS3) was the first folk act to work the Vegas strip.
• Gave Tony Bennett his first (and likely only) guitar lesson.
• ‘Mama Cass’ Eliot and David Crosby still owe me money.
• Was Phyllis Diller’s opening act the first time she ever walked onstage, anywhere.
• Served as Maya Angelou’s opening act and personal bongo player.
• Was Lenny Bruce’s opening act and he became one of my dear friends, but never bothered me with his many problems.
• Was Jonathan Winters’ long-time friend and opening act.
From California to the New York island, Randy Sparks and The New Christy Minstrels continue to perform for welcome audiences.
The world-famous folk band, The New Christy Minstrels, won a Grammy for their very first album and have numerous Gold Records. They were honored with a Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. The New Christy Minstrels is now officially seven dynamic performers strong, each adding a diverse and unique talent to the mix, with the record of 100% standing ovations since the current line up re-formed in 2010. The band still performs the folk songs that the audience knows, loves, and sings along with as they remember that wonderful, magical folk era.