The RAT (Randall A. Tarpley) was born in 1962 in Radford Community Hospital, living in Blacksburg, Va. at the time, was moved to Johnson City, Tennessee in 1964. Being born into a very musically talented family, he was destined to become a "picker" . The only music heard around the house in those days were Bluegrass and early traditional country and alot of it ! There was definitely "Bill Monroe for Breakfast Everyday"! Perhaps this is why the Rat refers to Bill as the" Father of Music".
He began learning the guitar around age 5 having been shown a couple of chords by his dad, later couple more by his half-brother, taking to it like a rat to cheese ! In no time he was playing to all the forefathers of bluegrass and country and enjoyed playing weekly in the background of all the parkinglot bands at a little country store/gas station in Hickory Tree, TN. (near Bluff City) . It wasn`t long until his playing was noticed and he was invited inside the circle with only the one problem: the mic stand not going low enough, making it hard for him to play and lift his guitar up to the mic at the same time ! Maybe this was when he realized that he had inherited the "short gene"?
By age 12, having lived thru the his parents' music of the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60`s, now entering the 70`s (Rat`s favorite yrs.) temporarily tired of the acoustic yrs., Rat was getting into more upbeat (and rebellious) country and early rock (when it was new, not classic!) and in `74 financed his first (and same one he now plays) guitar (Fender Telecaster Custom Deluxe) and amp. A band with his half-brother Ron McRae was formed along with bass player friend Dennis Payne called "Country Love" and they played what "gigs" were available. This went on throughout the yrs. with various band names, and one time, to solve the always ongoing problem of having a "steady drummer", Rat obtained, learned, and played a set for awhile ! Still playing bluegrass/country at family gatherings, often with his mom, an incredible tenor singer who Rat says " her and the Maker gave me my talent" , they finally got their first "steady drummer" Keith Oliver and there was an instant magic as the "Southern Harvest Band" was formed. This band lasted many yrs. off and on playing every venue that ever existed in the Tri-State area and climbed the ladder many times winning a local cable company & TNN sponsored battle of the bands at Cowboy`s and went to Nashville for the "Be a Star" show with Jim Ed Brown.
They opened the show for George Jones at Big Red`s in 1985 and mingled with such stars as Hank Jr., Jon Conlee, Johnny Paycheck, and of course Brenda Lee (Tarpley) Rat`s first cousin. Playing clubs steadily for over 20 yrs., writing and performing many original tunes, possessing a unique brotherly harmony blend of vocals, performing with many different musicians, ended up making a CD and playing on the road as "WEST 67" band (with new drummer Scotty Hensley) in the `90's until early `00's when they disbanded (due to the dropping out of half brother and keyboard player). Rat has always jammed with Tommy Lyons Band when not in his own band, and was no exception this last time. With the addition of the latest drummer Chad Blackburn and going three- piece (TLB version #11) playing a more jazzier, swingin` style of mostly classic rock , old favorites from many styles, and kewl country songs, the Rat says " I enjoy what we're doing now and have always had more fun when performing with Tommy than anywhere else, less stress than the road life, and we have become close friends. I am proud to be considered "alumni" having been in a few versions ! ". This ended Jan. 2005 when Tommy quit to join another band, since then RAT has not found anyone else to "jamm" with.
Having lived thru all the sounds of the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and now the mellinium, (each having their own distinct influences) Rat has a very complex , versatile style, a melting pot so to speak of styles, based with a rich southern rock backbone, can play nearly any kind of music and make it sound like it should but with an added twist. Rat loves recording and has alot of experience at it, but besides the music biz, his interests include: spending time with kids, long distance hiking, trail maintenance, camping, swimming, running paint/body shop, giving guitar lessons, and taking road trips. Now a large amount of his time has been dedicated to learning how to design and build websites.