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Johnny Paycheck

Biography

Most people know Johnny Paycheck for his huge hit from the 1970s "Take This Job and Shove It" and a number of other Nashville Country hits like "Slide Off of Your Satin Sheets." Few people realize that that was merely act two in a life that has seen more ups and downs than a roller coaster. Paycheck started his career at the tail end of the Rockabilly era, recording some undistinguished sides under the name Donny Young. At the time, he had already been dishonorably discharged from the service after doing hard time in the stockade for beating a superior officer. A gifted multi-instrumentalist proficient on bass, steel guitar, and guitar, Paycheck then spent quite a bit of time in the road bands of folks like Faron Young, Ray Price, and George Jones. The very thought of the substance abusing championship team of Jones and Paycheck makes the idea of Aerosmith's Toxic Twins -- Steven Tyler and Joe Perry -- pale in comparison. In the mid-'60s he made a series of stunningly original albums for the independent Little Darlin' record label. The work is marked by Paycheck's beautiful singing, emotionally raw songwriting, and the diamond hard sound of his recording band, led by pedal steel wiz Lloyd Green. These records did not sell particularly well, and by the mid -'70s Paycheck was broke and on skid row. He returned from obscurity later on that decade, recording with top Nashville producer Billy Sherrill. That relationship yielded many terrific sides as well as the aforementioned "Take This Job and Shove It." Despite his success, Paycheck's problems with alcohol and cocaine found him in a downward spiral which culminated in an 1985 incident in an Ohio bar in which he shot a man, and was subsequently sent to prison. Paycheck got out of prison a changed man who has slowly, but surely reclaimed his dignity and started to receive the respect as a writer and singer that he deserves. The Country Music Foundation reissued his Little Darlin' recordings in a critically acclaimed package.
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