Steven Noel "Steve" Wariner (born December 25, 1954) is an American country music singer, songwriter and guitarist. He has released eighteen studio albums, including six on MCA Records, and three each on RCA Records, Arista Records and Capitol Records. He has also charted more than fifty singles on the Billboard country singles charts, including ten Number One hits: "All Roads Lead to You", "Some Fools Never Learn", "You Can Dream of Me", "Life's Highway", "Small Town Girl", "The Weekend", "Lynda", "Where Did I Go Wrong", and "I Got Dreams", and "What If I Said", a duet with Anita Cochran from her album Back to You. Three of his studio albums have been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipping 500,000 copies in the United States.
In addition to writing or co-writing most of his own songs, Wariner holds several writing credits for other artists, including Number One hits for Clint Black and Garth Brooks, as well as singles for Bryan White and Keith Urban. Other artists with whom he has worked include Nicolette Larson, Glen Campbell, Mark O'Connor, Asleep at the Wheel and Brad Paisley. Wariner has also won four Grammy Awards: one for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals, and three for Best Country Instrumental, the most recent in 2010 for "Producer's Medley" from the album Steve Wariner, c.g.p., My Tribute to Chet Atkins. Steve Wariner was one of only four guitar players in the world to be given the "Certified Guitar Player" (CGP) award by Chet Atkins (five including Atkins himself).
Wariner became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1996. He was inducted into the Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville in 2008, and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2011.
Steven Noel Wariner was born in Noblesville, Indiana, on December 25, 1954. Influenced at an early age by George Jones and Chet Atkins, Wariner started performing in his father's band, and later moved on to playing in local clubs. By age 17, he had been hired by Dottie West as a bass guitarist, and played on her single "Country Sunshine". He also worked with Glen Campbell, whom he has cited as a major influence on his work. After his stint with Dottie West, Steve Wariner toured playing bass for Grand Ole Opry star Bob Luman, and it was during this period that he was signed to RCA records by Chet Atkins.
Wariner's first recording contract came in 1976, when he signed to RCA Records. His first single release for the label, "I'm Already Taken", peaked at No. 63 and was later recorded by Conway Twitty. Following it were five non-album singles, one of which ("The Easy Part's Over") fell one space short of Top 40 on the Billboard country charts. His first Top 40 hit, "Your Memory", came in late 1980 and peaked at No. 7. It was the first of six singles from his self-titled debut album, which also produced the No. 6 "By Now" and his first Number One, 1981's "All Roads Lead to You". Wariner's debut earned favorable comparisons to Glen Campbell for the low tuning of his guitar.
His second album for RCA, 1983's Midnight Fire, accounted for five singles. The lead single "Don't Your Memory Ever Sleep at Night" peaked at No. 23, while the next two singles became Top Five hits (the title track and "Lonely Women Make Good Lovers"). The final single fell short of Top 40, however. After this he exited RCA's roster and signed with MCA. RCA released a Greatest Hits package in 1985, promoted with the single "When We're Together." Since it was competing with his new singles on MCA, it didn't garner much attention and failed to chart. A year later, the label issued Down in Tennessee, which he had originally recorded for them in 1978 and which included "I'm Already Taken". To promote this album, RCA released the single "You Make It Feel So Right." This was a newly remixed version of the song, which was now a duet with Carol Chase. (The track had appeared on the previous year's Greatest Hits as a solo recording.) However, as with the previous RCA release, this single faced competition from his new MCA recordings, and also failed to chart.
When Wariner signed to MCA Records in 1984, he began a string of consecutive Top Ten hits that lasted into the 1990s. The first of these was the No. 3 "What I Didn't Do", the first of three singles from his 1984 album One Good Night Deserves Another. Following it were the No. 8 "Heart Trouble" and his second Number One, "Some Fools Never Learn". He also collaborated with pop singer Nicolette Larson on her Top Ten country hit "That's How You Know When Love's Right", her only Top 40 country single. It was also during this time that Steve recorded the theme song for the ABC television sitcom, Who's the Boss?. Wariner's version of "Brand New Life", used from 1986 to 1990, is the most widely recognized rendition of the song.
His next album, Life's Highway, accounted for two consecutive Number Ones in "You Can Dream of Me" and the title track, while all three singles from the next album (1987's It's a Crazy World) went to Number One as well: "Small Town Girl", "The Weekend" and "Lynda". Wariner also sang duet vocals on Glen Campbell's 1987 single "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle".
I Should Be with You was Wariner's fourth release for MCA. Although none of its singles went to Number One, the album accounted for consecutive No. 2s in "Baby I'm Yours" and its title track. 1989's I Got Dreams produced the chart-toppers "Where Did I Go Wrong" and its title track, and by the end of the decade, Wariner had eight Number Ones on the country singles charts.
Laredo, released in 1990, was his final release for MCA. Lead-off single "The Domino Theory" peaked at No. 7, followed by the Mac McAnally co-write "Precious Thing" at No. 8 and "There for Awhile" at No. 17, his first single since 1984 not to reach Top Ten. After this single, he exited MCA.
1991 saw the release of Wariner's first album for Arista Records. Entitled I Am Ready, this was also the first album of his career to be certified gold for shipping 500,000 copies in the United States. Singles from it included "Leave Him Out of This", "The Tips of My Fingers" (a cover of Bill Anderson's 1960 single), "A Woman Loves", "Crash Course in the Blues" and "Like a River to the Sea". These first three singles were all Top Ten hits. In 1992, Wariner received his first Grammy Award, for Best Country Vocal Collaboration, as a guest vocalist and guitarist alongside Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs and fiddler Mark O'Connor on the single "Restless", a No. 25-peaking single from O'Connor's album The New Nashville Cats. He also collaborated with O'Connor on the No. 71-peaking "Now It Belongs to You" on the same album.
His second album for Arista was 1993's Drive. Leading off this album was the Top Ten "If I Didn't Love You". After it came the Top 30 hits "Drivin' and Cryin'" and "It Won't Be Over You", although the album's title track stopped at No. 63. Wariner, along with Lee Roy Parnell and Diamond Rio, recorded a cover of Merle Haggard's "Workin' Man's Blues" as the fictional band Jed Zeppelin for the late-1994 tribute album Mama's Hungry Eyes. This cover peaked at No. 48 and was made into a music video. A year later, Wariner contributed a cover of the song "Get Back" to Come Together: America Salutes The Beatles, a tribute album which included country music covers of songs by The Beatles. His rendition charted at No. 72 on the country charts and was also a music video shot primarily at Union Station in Nashville.
An instrumental album, No More Mr. Nice Guy followed in 1996. His final Arista release, it produced no singles, although one of the tracks, "Brickyard Boogie", was nominated for Best Country Instrumental at the 1997 Grammy Awards. This track was a collaboration with Bryan White, Jeffrey Steele, Bryan Austin and former Pearl River guitarist Derek George. Despite exiting Arista in 1997, Wariner made a guest appearance along with Mac McAnally in the music video for Sawyer Brown's 1997 single "This Night Won't Last Forever", a cover of the Michael Johnson song.
Although he was not signed to a recording contract since 1996, Wariner had found success as a songwriter in Nashville, including several singles between late 1997 and early 1998. Among these were the Number One hits "Longneck Bottle" for Garth Brooks (a song on which Wariner also sang backup vocals and played guitar) and "Nothin' but the Taillights" for Clint Black, as well as Bryan White's No. 15 "One Small Miracle". He also sang duet vocals on Anita Cochran's single "What If I Said", from her Warner Bros. Records debut album Back to You. This song became a Number One in early 1998. Several radio stations in the United States began to play the singles that Wariner co-wrote along with the Cochran duet in special airplay blocks. The success of these songs led to him signing with Capitol Records Nashville in 1998. Leading off his Capitol releases was the No. 2 single "Holes in the Floor of Heaven", the first of four releases from the album Burnin' the Roadhouse Down. This album, his second to be certified gold, produced three more singles: the title track (a duet with Brooks) at No. 26, "Road Trippin'" at No. 55 and "Every Little Whisper" at No. 36. Also in 1998, "Holes in the Floor of Heaven" earned Wariner his first Country Music Association awards, winning both Single of the Year and Song of the Year. Burnin' the Roadhouse Down was also his highest peak on Top Country Albums, at No. 6.
Wariner's second album for Capitol was entitled Two Teardrops. Released in 1999, it was certified gold as well. It produced only two singles: its title track, which Wariner co-wrote with Bill Anderson, and a re-recording of "I'm Already Taken". Respectively, these singles reached No. 2 and No. 3 on the country charts. Like Burnin' the Roadhouse Down before it, Two Teardrops peaked at No. 6 on the country albums charts.
He reached Top Ten on the country charts for the last time in early 2000, duetting with Clint Black on the song "Been There" (which the two also co-wrote), the second single from Black's 1999 album D'lectrified. Also that year, Wariner won his second Grammy Award, this time for Best Country Instrumental as a guest musician on the Asleep at the Wheel song "Bob's Breakdown". Following "Been There" was the No. 28 "Faith in You", the first release from Wariner's 2000 album of the same name. After this album's only other single — the No. 22 "Katie Wants a Fast One", another duet with Brooks — Wariner exited Capitol. He continued to write, and in 2001 Keith Urban charted in the Top Five with "Where the Blacktop Ends", which Wariner co-wrote with Allen Shamblin.
Wariner formed his own label in 2003, called Selectone Records. His first album for this label, Steal Another Day, accounted for low-charting singles in "I'm Your Man" and "Snowfall on the Sand", both of which peaked in the fifties on the country singles charts. Another album for Selectone, 2005's The Real Life, produced no singles. In 2008, Wariner won his second Grammy for Best Country Instrumental, and third Grammy overall, as one of several guitarists featured on the track "Cluster Pluck" from Brad Paisley's 2008 album Play. Wariner also co-wrote and played guitar on the track "More Than Just This Song" from this same album. In 2009 Wariner released a tribute to his mentor Chet Atkins entitled My Tribute to Chet Atkins, which led to his 4th Grammy award in 2010, for Best Country Instrumental Performance for "Producer's Medley." In 2011 he released Guitar Laboratory, an eclectic, all-instrumental collection exploring classical, country, jazz, blues, rock, and Hawaiian sounds.