On this date in 1985, Johnny Paycheck was accused of shooting a man in a barroom brawl in Hillsboro, Ohio. At least that’s the way most headlines about the story began. But it was much more complicated…and bizarre…than that. Paycheck was heading home for the holidays to visit his mom, but before reaching his destination, he stopped at the North High Lounge for a drink. In the bar was country music fan Larry Wise who recognized the singer and started up a conversation. Paycheck asked to be left alone. Wise offered to take Johnny back home and feed him a home-cooked meal of deer meat and turtle soup. It’s not sure if Wise was making a peace offering or insulting Paycheck’s small-town roots. What is clear is how Paycheck took it. He barked, “Do you see me as some kind of country hick?” and reached for his .22-caliber pistol. Testifying at a hearing eight days later, Wise said he immediately started to back off and never saw the gun and never heard the shot. Running from the bar, a bullet grazed his scalp and left him with a minor wound bleeding above the right eye. Wise testified, “He blowed my hat off. I guess he took it as a personal insult.” Paycheck claimed the shot Wise in self-defense. He fought the case in court for years until he received a nine-year prison sentence. The Governor of Ohio later pardoned him after he served less than two years. Paycheck would go on to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1997 before he passed away in 2003. George Jones paid for his burial plot in Nashville’s Woodlawn Cemetery. (BTW, George’s plot is just a few rows away from Paycheck’s.) The North High Lounge was later torn down with government buildings now occupying the site.


Celebrating Birthdays Today: Codie Prevost, who was named Saskatchewan Country Music Entertainer for six consecutive years, turns 34; Alberta singer, songwriter, radio announcer and motivational speaker Danny Hooper marks another year around the sun; former jingle and backup singer (and two-time CMA Female Vocalist award winner) Janie Fricke turns 71; and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founding member John McEuen turns 73.


And two years ago today, I did a live phone interview with the legendary Charley Pride. But what happened after the interview made news. Literally minutes after hanging up with Charley, the official announcement came that Pride would be the next recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award!