Thursday, February 27, 2003

Mourners say goodbye to PayCheck

By John Gerome
The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Singer Johnny PayCheck was eulogized Tuesday as a man who battled hardships and addictions but found peace in the final years of his life.

[photo] Nancy Jones (left) wife of country singer George Jones (center) greets a guest at the graveside services for Johnny PayCheck.
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
PayCheck, known best for the anthem "Take This Job and Shove It," died last week after a lengthy battle with emphysema and asthma. He was 64.

More than 200 mourners, including singers George Jones and Little Jimmy Dickens, and a small contingent of the Hell's Angels, attended the funeral where PayCheck's recordings of "Old Violin" and "Amazing Grace" were played.

Glenn Weekley, pastor of the First Baptist Church, said PayCheck made mistakes in his life but had "made peace with the Lord."

"I hope you remember him not only for the great music and singing, but as a man who had turned his life around toward God's grace," Weekley said

PayCheck died broke and his funeral was paid for by his friends, including Jones, who also bought the singer a burial plot next to his.

"I first met him in Columbus, Ohio," Jones recalled as he stood beside PayCheck's grave site. "He wanted to come on the road with me and work. I couldn't leave town without him."

PayCheck was born Donald Lytle in Greenfield, Ohio, and went to high school in Hillsboro. He recorded 70 albums and had more than two dozen hit singles, including "Don't Take Her, She's All I Got" (revived in 1996 by Tracy Byrd), "I'm the Only Hell Mama Ever Raised," "Slide Off Your Satin Sheets," and "You Can Have Her."

But his biggest single was 1977's "Take This Job and Shove It," a song written by David Allan Coe that inspired a 1981 movie with the same title.

He changed his name to Johnny Paycheck in the 1960s, taking the name from a boxer, and started capitalizing the "C" in the 1990s.

PayCheck's career all but disappeared in the late '60s as he sank into his drug and alcohol addictions. Tracked down by a record company executive in Los Angeles, he went into rehabilitation and made a comeback on Epic Records, aided by producer Billy Sherrill.

"I think my best times were in the '70s, when I made the comeback," PayCheck told the Associated Press in an interview last year.

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