Country singer Johnny Paycheck, best known for his 1977 hit song "Take This Job and Shove It," died Tuesday in his sleep in a Nashville nursing home of emphysema and diabetes, among other problems. He
Country singer Johnny Paycheck, best known for his 1977 hit song "Take This Job and Shove It," died Tuesday in his sleep in a Nashville nursing home of emphysema and diabetes, among other problems. He was 64.
Although he scored 11 top-10 country singles, "Take This Job and Shove It," written by David Allan Coe, was Paycheck's only No. 1. His other big hits included "She's All I Got" and "Mr. Lovemaker."
Born Donald Lytle in Greenfield, Ohio, the singer first recorded for Decca under the name Donny Young, then hit the Billboard charts as Johnny Paycheck in 1965 with "A-11." Paycheck had four top-10 albums, including "Take This Job and Shove It" (Epic), which hit No. 2 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart in 1977. He also wrote "Apartment #9," a top-50 country hit for Tammy Wynette in 1967.
Last year, Columbia/Legacy released a retrospective of the artist's career, "The Soul & the Edge: The Best of Johnny Paycheck." "It makes me feel good to listen to it," the artist told Billboard at the time.
Paycheck's turbulent personal life -- battles with alcoholism, the Internal Revenue Service, and the law (he served two years in prison for shooting a man at the North High Lounge in Hillsboro, Ohio) -- often overshadowed his career and saw him branded as an "outlaw." That rougher side was reflected in many of the songs he wrote and performed. "That was me, them's all 'life' songs," he said. "I regret a lot of that stuff I did."
But to Paycheck, the outlaw label transcended his legal troubles. "To me, an 'outlaw' is a man that did things his own way, whether you liked him or not," he said. "This world is full of people that want you to do things their way, not necessarily the way you want to do it. I did things my way."
Even though his failing health -- including struggles with emphysema -- kept him off the road and out of the studio, he looked back on his body of work with pride. "I enjoyed all those days," he reflected. "I enjoyed both the recording and the tours. I loved the studio work with the musicians and creating something. If I had it to do over again, I think I'd do about the same thing."
Paycheck is survived by his wife, Sharon, to whom he was married for more than 30 years, and his son Jonathan.