Man, they just don’t make country artists like they used to.
It’s no secret that the outlaw country movement that stretched from the ’70s to ’80s was full of wild stories, that you’d almost have to see to believe.
From George Jones, to Waylon Jennings, Johnny Paycheck, David Allan Coe, Willie Nelson, and more, life on the road with these guys would’ve been one helluva time.
Of course, Waylon called the outlaw term a bunch of nonsense, and was even famously quoted as saying the only outlaw thing Willie Nelson ever did was double park on Music Row, but you can’t discount the cultural impact that it had on country music at the time, and even still today.
But speaking of wild stories from the outlaw country days, I was digging through the metaphorical internet archives and thought we’d dive into this wild one from other than Johnny Paycheck himself.
The polarizing country singer was best known for recording the David Allan Coe smash hit “Take This Job and Shove It,” and was equally known for his rowdy, full throttle lifestyle.
The stories from his well documented country career go on and on, but this one just might be his wildest…
I’m talking about a time where he almost killed a man in a bar… just because he asked him if he wanted to go back to his house for a nice dinner.
According to WLWT5,this one went down in December of 1985, in a bar just east of Cincinnati, Ohio called the North High Lounge.
Paycheck was 47 at the time, and was in the area visiting his sick mother for the holidays in his hometown of Greenfield, Ohio. The bar was about 20 miles from his hometown in Hillsboro.
Story goes, a man by the name of Larry Wise began chatting it up with Paycheck, but the country singer was apparently not in much of a talking mood after the long drive.
According to Wise, he and his buddy Lloyd Bowers had only had six or seven beers a piece, and Paycheck even paid for a round.
So, Wise asked the country singer if he and others at the bar would like to go back to his place where he’d cook some deer meat and turtle soup, and that’s when things went south…
Paycheck allegedly shouted:
“I’m no country hick.”
He then pulled out his .22-caliber pistol and shot at Wise, and the bullet grazed his head.
According to testimony from Wise, he never saw the gun, but felt the blood run down his face while he was running away.
Wise recalled the scary scene in court:
“No, I didn’t see the gun. My hat flew off… my ears were ringing real bad. I reached down to get my hat, and blood was running down my face. I knowed I had been shot.”
Ralph Buss, Paycheck’s lawyer, refuted the story in court, claiming Wise approached his Paycheck with an upraised beer bottle, and he was subsequently shot in self-defense. Buss also said Bowers was also combative, and forced Paycheck to trade hats.
After years of litigation, Paycheck was ultimately sentenced to 7-to-9 1/2 years in prison.
However, he only spent less than two years after he was pardoned by Ohio Governor Richard Celeste.
Wild times, man. Wild times.
You can hear Paycheck explain the situation himself, during a throwback interview with TNN: