Johnny PayCheck dies at 64

Thursday, February 20, 2003

— Country singer Johnny PayCheck, the hard-drinking hell-raiser best known for his 1977 working man's anthem "Take This Job and Shove It," has died at 64.

PayCheck had been bedridden in a nursing home with emphysema and asthma. He died Tuesday, Grand Ole Opry spokeswoman Jessie Schmidt said.

Specializing in earthy, plainspoken songs, PayCheck recorded 70 albums and had more than two dozen hit singles. His biggest hit was "Take This Job and Shove It," which inspired a movie by that name, and a title album that sold 2 million copies.

His other hits included "Don't Take Her, She's All I Got," (which was revived 25 years later in 1996 by Tracy Byrd), "I'm the Only Hell Mama Ever Raised," "Slide Off Your Satin Sheets," "Old Violin" and "You Can Have Her."

"My music's always been about life. And situations. Situation comedies, situation life," he said in 1997.

Several country artists said Wednesday that PayCheck would be missed.

"I think he spoke to the blue collar American public," Terri Clark said. "He was a lifeline for real people who worked real jobs and who had to deal with life's hardships."

John Michael Montgomery noted that Paycheck's death followed by a year that of Waylon Jennings, another country music veteran.

"Those guys worked their butts off," Montgomery said. "They did it at a time when country music was hard all the way around. It was hard touring, it was hard getting your records played."

Early in his career, PayCheck played in George Jones' band, and the two later recorded an album called "Double Trouble."

"But later in life we both mellowed," Jones said Wednesday. "The world will miss a great country singer and I will miss my friend."

Born Donald Eugene Lytle on May 31, 1938, in Greenfield, Ohio, he took the name Johnny Paycheck in the mid-1960s about a decade after moving to Nashville to build a country music career. He began capitalizing the "c" in PayCheck in the mid-1990s.

In 2002, a PayCheck compilation album, "The Soul & the Edge: The Best of Johnny PayCheck," was released.

PayCheck and his wife, Sharon, were married more than 30 years. They had one son.