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    Johnny Paycheck

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    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1I Can't Hold Myself In Line lyrics
    2Your Love Is Mine lyrics
    3What Am I Living For? lyrics
    Johnny Paycheck feat. Conway Twitty
    4Love Is a Good Thing lyrics
    5Colorado Kool-Aid lyrics
    6Maybellene lyrics
    George Jones feat. Johnny Paycheck
    7I Take It on Home lyrics
    8Because I Love You lyrics
    9I Love Loving You Baby lyrics
    10Heart Don't Need Eyes to See lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    At Carnegie Hall [Little Darlin] [1966]
    Lovin' Machine [Little Darlin] [1966]
    Difference in Me [Playback] [1995]
    4Jukebox Charlie [Little Darlin] [1967]
    5Somebody Loves Me [Epic] [1972]
    6She's All I Got [Epic] [1971]
    7Country Soul [Little Darlin] [1967]
    8Greatest Hits [Little Darlin] [1968]
    9Wherever You Are [Little Darlin] [1969]
    10Gospel Time in My Fashion [Little Darlin] [1967]


    The first time that many people ever heard of Johnny Paycheck was
    in 1977, when his "Take This Job and Shove It" inspired one-man
    wildcat strikes all over America. The next time was in 1985, when
    he was arrested for shooting a man at a bar in Hillsboro, OH. That
    Paycheck is remembered for a fairly amusical novelty song and a
    violent crime (for which he spent two years in prison) is a shame,
    for it just so happens that he is one of the mightiest honky tonkers
    of his time. Born and raised in Greenfield, OH, Paycheck was
    performing in talent contests by the age of nine and riding the rails
    as a drifter by the time he turned 15. After a Navy stint landed him
    in the brig for two years, he arrived in Nashville, where he
    performed in the bands of Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Ray Price,
    and George Jones. He recorded several singles under the name
    Donny Young, then, in 1965, cut his first sides as Johnny Paycheck
    for the Hilltop label. A year later, he and gadfly producer Aubrey
    Mayhew started the Little Darlin' label, for which Paycheck recorded
    his greatest work. Marked by Lloyd Green's knockout steel guitar
    and Paycheck's broad, resonant vocals (not to mention his
    rounder's sense of humor) his Little Darlin' records of the 1960s
    have since become cult favorites. After splitting with Mayhew (and
    after running his life into the gutter) Paycheck made a celebrated
    comeback on Epic in the 1970s. "Take This Job and Shove It" was
    the most famous result, though ballads like "She's All I Got" and
    "Someone to Give My Love To" are far more indicative of his
    stylistic range.

    Born Donald Lytle, Paycheck began playing guitar when he was six,
    and within three years, he was performing talent contests across
    the state. When he was 15, he ran away from home, hitchhiking,
    and hoboing his away across the country, singing in honky tonks
    and clubs along the way. By his late teens, he had joined the Navy,
    but while he was serving, he assaulted a superior officer and was
    convicted of court martial. As a result, he spent two years in the
    brig. Upon his release, he moved to Nashville, where made the
    acquaintance of Buddy Killen at Decca Records, who offered him
    a contract. At Decca, Paycheck released two rockabilly singles on
    the label under the name Donny Young; neither were hits. Shortly
    afterward, he moved to Mercury, where he released two country
    singles, which were also failures. By that time, he had begun
    supporting other musicians, playing bass and occasionally steel
    guitar with Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, and Ray Price. He
    frequently moved between employers because of his short-fused
    temper. Paycheck finally found his match in George Jones. He
    stayed with Jones for four years, fronting the Jones Boys
    between 1962 and 1966, and singing backup on George's hits
    "I'm a People," "The Race Is On," and "Love Bug."

    Toward the end of his stint with Jones, Donald Lytle refashioned
    himself as Johnny Paycheck, taking his name from a Chicago
    heavyweight boxer. Late in 1965, he relaunched his solo career
    with the assistance of producer Aubrey Mayhew, who produced
    a pair of singles — "A-11" and "Heartbreak Tennessee" — for
    Hilltop Records. Though it only charted at number 26, "A-11"
    caused a sensation within the country community, earning several
    Grammy nominations as well as reviews that compared Paycheck
    to his mentor, Jones. In 1966, he and Mayhew formed Little Darlin'
    Records, primarily designing the label to promote Paycheck, but
    also recording Jeannie C. Riley, Bobby Helms, and Lloyd Green.
    That summer, "The Lovin' Machine" became Paycheck's first Top
    Ten hit. Also that year, he wrote Tammy Wynette's first hit,
    "Apartment #9," with Bobby Austin and Fuzzy Owen; Paycheck
    also wrote Ray Price's number three hit "Touch My Heart."

    All of Paycheck's recordings for Little Darlin' Records rank among
    his grittiest, hardest country, but they weren't necessarily big hits.
    Between 1967 and 1969, Paycheck had eight more hit singles,
    with each record progressively charting at a lower position than
    its predecessor — "Motel Time Again" reached number 13 in early
    1967, while "If I'm Gonna Sink" climbed to number 73 in late
    1968. Though "Wherever You Are" showed signs of a comeback
    in the summer of 1969, peaking at number 31, the label went
    bankrupt shortly after its release, partially due to Paycheck's
    declining commercial performance, partially due to his heavy
    drinking and erratic behavior. Over the course of the next year,
    he moved to California and sunk deeply into substance abuse.
    Meanwhile, Billy Sherrill at Epic Records had been searching for
    Paycheck with the hopes of producing his records. The label
    finally tracked him down in 1971 and offered him a contract,
    provided that he cleaned himself up. Paycheck accepted the offer
    and, with Sherrill's assistance, kicked his addictions.

    Like many of Sherrill's records of the early '70s, his Paycheck
    recordings were heavily produced and often layered with stings.
    Though this was a shift from the hardcore country that Paycheck
    made on Little Darlin', the new approach was a hit — his debut
    single for the label, "She's All I Got," became a number two hit
    upon its fall 1971 release. It was quickly followed by another
    Top Ten hit, "Someone to Give My Love To," and Paycheck was
    finally becoming a star. During the next four years, he had 12
    additional hit singles — including 1973's Top Ten singles
    "Something About You I Love" and "Mr. Lovemaker," and 1974's
    "For a Minute There" — with the more accessible, pop-oriented
    songs Sherrill crafted for him, but Paycheck's wild ways hadn't
    changed all that much. In 1972, he was convicted of check
    forgery and, in 1976, was saddled with a paternity suit, tax
    problems, and bankruptcy. Accordingly, he shifted his musical
    style in the mid-'70s to put him in step with the renegade outlaw
    country movement.

    Paycheck's first outlaw album, 1976's 11 Months and 29 Days
    (which happened to be the length of his suspended sentence for
    passing a bad check), featured a photo of him in a jail cell on
    the cover, signalling his change of direction. Initially, his outlaw
    records weren't hits, but early in 1977 he returned to the Top Ten
    with a pair of Top Ten singles, "Slide Off of Your Satin Sheets" and
    "I'm the Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised)." Later that year, he
    released his cover of David Allan Coe's "Take This Job and Shove
    It," which became his biggest hit, spending two weeks at number
    one; its B-side, "Colorado Kool-Aid," also charted at number 50.
    Soon, Paycheck's records were becoming near-parodies of his
    lifestyle, as the title "Me and the I.R.S." and "D.O.A. (Drunk on
    Arrival)" indicated. Nevertheless, he stayed at the top of the
    charts, with "Friend, Lover, Wife" and "Mabellene" both reaching
    number seven in late 1978 and early 1979.

    Shortly after the twin success of those singles, his career began to
    crumble due to his excessive, violent behavior. In 1979, his former
    manager Glenn Ferguson began a prolonged and difficult legal
    battle. In 1981, a flight attendant for Frontier Airlines sued him
    for slander after he began a fight on a plane. The following year,
    he was arrested for alleged rape. The charges were later reduced
    and he was fined, but by that point, Epic had had enough and
    dropped him from the label. Paycheck moved over to AMI, where
    he had a number of small hit singles between 1984 and 1985.
    Later in 1985, he had a barroom brawl with a stranger in
    Hillsboro, OH, that ended with Paycheck shooting and injuring his
    opponent. The singer was arrested for aggravated assault and
    spent the next four years appealing the sentence while he recorded
    for Mercury Records. None of his singles for the label reached the
    Top 40, and he was dropped from the label in 1987. He spent 1988
    at Desperado Records before signing with Damascus the following
    year, after his conversion to Christianity.

    In 1989, Paycheck's appeals had expired and he was sentenced
    to the Chillicothe Correctional Institute. He spent two years at the
    prison, even performing a concert with Merle Haggard at the jail
    during his stint, before being released on parole in January 1991.
    Following his release, Paycheck kept a low profile, playing shows
    in Branson, MO, and recording for the small label Playback Records.
    After battling diabetes and emphysema for a number of years,
    Paycheck passed away in February 2003. He was 64.

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