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    Jeff Bates

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    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1Wayfaring Stranger lyrics
    2The Moment lyrics
    The Love Song lyrics
    4That'll Get You Ten lyrics
    5I Can't Write That lyrics
    6The Wings of Mama's Prayers lyrics
    7Life's Railway To Heaven lyrics
    8I Hurt So Bad lyrics
    9Already Spent lyrics
    10Dreaming lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    1Rainbow Man [2003]


    Jeff Bates was given up for adoption as a baby. He later met his birth mother, though his natural father remains a complete mystery. Mississippi sharecropper Ed Bates and his wife Barbara adopted him. Barbara, the daughter of a Pentecostal preacher, raised the baby on gospel songs. Eight brothers and sisters came along, and Ed and Barbara also took in two cousins. Bates' father became a bulldozer operator in the Columbia, Miss. area.

    By his teens, Bates was a self-described "geek." Poor and shy, he had few friends and was constantly picked on by bullies. When he fought back at age 14, he was suspended from school.

    "Daddy said, 'Well, you're getting too big to go to school anyway.' He was having health problems and couldn't run the bulldozer anymore. So I was to stay home and help him. I'd already run his chain saw and driven his pickup truck by then," Bates says.

    The family was so backwoods that at the age of 17 Bates had never been outside of Marion County, Miss. Hungry to see the world, he joined the National Guard. After that, he took a job on an oil rig. One night, a friend urged him to get on stage at the Colonial Steak House in Columbia, Mississippi. He sang Elvis' "Suspicious Minds," George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and Conway Twitty's "I'd Love to Lay You Down."

    "The club owner came up to me and said, 'How would you like to work here six nights a week? I'll pay you $50 a night.' I went in the next morning and quit my oil rig job." That same year Jeff fell in love and married an older woman who was a waitress at the club. That stormy union lasted only a few years. After the breakup, he moved to Seminary, Mississippi and became a carpenter for a time, continuing to sing on the side. Later on he became a welder, but music continued to be his first love. Wanting to pursue his music more seriously, he moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. It was there that he met and later married his first manager and in 1993 he formed his own band, Southern Storm. Bates blossomed quickly once he began writing with Music City's tunesmiths. His wife/manager, however, told him he'd be better off back in Arkansas. So he moved back to his former hometown, a decision that would prove to be detrimental to him in more ways than one.

    "Moved back to Little Rock, and it was all downhill from there. I hated it. I felt like I had thrown away all the progress I had made. I resented the whole thing."

    As his marriage began to unravel, Jeff started commuting back to Nashville to write more songs. He was signed by Warner-Chappell Publishing and started doing showcases in hopes of landing a recording contract. He moved back to Nashville. Everything seemed to be looking up, especially after he met Connie, who he began to date and would later become his wife. But by then Bates had gotten caught up in using drugs. He had even sold all of his musical equipment to fund his drug habit. When that money ran out, he hit rock bottom, and the police eventually found thousands of dollars worth of stolen musical equipment at his home. He was sent to jail.

    "I got arrested on March 14, 2001. They handcuffed me and took me to jail. I looked like death. I hated myself. I didn't believe there was a God. I didn't care if I lived or died. A couple of days later, when I woke up straight for the first time in months, it dawned on me what I'd done. I started calling everybody I'd stolen something from. I told my wife everything. I told her to leave me, divorce me. I didn't deserve her.

    "I knew I'd lost it all. I'd wasted my life. That's when I met God and started talking to him. I prayed, 'I know I've messed up. And I'm not asking for anything except tell me what I'm supposed to do. Tell me to go back to Mississippi and I'll go.' The next day, I found out that Gene Watson had recorded two of my songs. And that Tracy Lawrence had recorded a song of mine and Kenny Beard's called "What a Memory." I cried like a baby.

    "Here's how I got my life back. I called Kenny Beard while I was in jail. He had let me use Old Magic, his prize guitar that he'd written so many of his hits on. I phoned to tell him that I'd pawned it, to apologize and to tell him where it was. He said, 'When you get out, I want you to promise to come and see me.'"When I was released, I walked out and Connie was there. She'd stuck with me. The next morning, I went to Kenny Beard's. He met me at the door with Old Magic in his hand. He said, 'Here, take this and write songs with it. There's the case with the pawn ticket still in it. If you get the hankering to do drugs, there's the pawn ticket to remind you. I love you. Come on in and let's write.'"

    Bates worked pouring concrete building foundations for houses by day and created new music by night. He got his songwriting contract back. In time, some of his tapes made their way to RCA. On January 29, 2002, he sang in person for the label's executives. The label signed him, and released his debut single "The Love Song" in 2003.

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