Archive for the ‘Jody Payne’ Category

Saturday, January 18th, 2014


Waylon Payne and Jody Payne

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Waylon Payne plays at the Blue Moon Farm in Silverhill, Alabama, in 2012. Waylon’s dad joins him for the set, along with Jon Cook, Riley Yielding, and Sergio Webb.

Jody Payne honored

Sunday, October 20th, 2013


Longtime Willie Nelson guitarist Jody Payne told the Press-Register in 2011 that he didn’t miss life on the road. â??I miss the guys and I miss the sound, but I don’??t miss the bus,” ? he said. â??It got to where you knew what city you were in because of what the auditorium looked like, not what the city looked like.? (Press-Register file photo
by:  Lawrence Specker

When Baldwin County guitarist Jody Payne died in August, his passing drew a response from music fans nationwide thanks in large part to Payne’s long association with Willie Nelson. Now plans are in place for at least two tribute events at which area musicians will pay their respects.

The first takes place Sunday, Oct. 20, at American Legion Post 199, 700 S. Mobile St. in Fairhope. Plans call for the event to take place at the post’s beach stage, though it will be moved indoors in case of inclement weather.   Music starts at 3 p.m.

There is no admission charge. Listeners are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets, but coolers and glass containers will not be allowed on the beach. The venue’s tiki bar will be open and food will be available.

Musicians interested in participating should contact host Alan Hartzell via e-mail at alanhartzellmusic@gmail.

Another tribute to Payne is planned for Saturday, Oct. 26 at Blue Moon Farm, a private concert venue near Silverhill. According to the venue’s website, “Family, friends and fans are all welcome … Bring a dish, a cooler, guitars, memories and smiles as we remember this wonderful, talented and giving man.”

The event takes place from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and there is no admission charge. For more information, visit

Payne toured with Nelson from 1973 through 2008, when he retired from touring. A 2011 Press-Register profile by Jim Hannaford described him as playing occasional gigs, teaching lessons at Picker’s Paradise in Stapleton and generally taking advantage of time to relax and enjoy life with his wife, Vicki.

His death at age 77 was attributed to cardiac problems. His passing was noted in industry media outlets such as Rolling Stone and Billboard.

A fan and a friend remembers Jody Payne

Sunday, September 8th, 2013
by:  Dallas Moore

On the morning of Saturday, August 10, 2013, the world lost a true giant of Country Music when Jody Payne was called home.

Like the iconic “Red Headed Stranger” that he spent so many years making music with, Jody was a master of the guitar, a great contributor to the Willie Nelson and Family Band “Sound” and had a profound musical influence on an entire generation of musicians. Born on January 11,1936 in Garrard County, Kentucky Jody began his musical journey playing Bluegrass with Charlie Monroe (Brother of Bill Monroe) and eventually met up with notable Kentucky pickers including rockabilly innovator Orangie Hubbard and Dillard Anderson (Uncle of the fiery fingered guitarist Scotty Anderson).

After moving to Norwood, Ohio (more on this writers personal connection with that later) to finish out High School, Jody was drafted into the United States Army where he served two years before landing in Detroit, Michigan which led to a stint playing with Merle Haggard. He would also later play with Tanya Tucker and Leon Russell. When Jody met Willie Nelson, Ol’ Willie was playing bass in Ray Price’s Band and in 1973 was putting together what would become the classic Willie Nelson and Family Band lineup. It was from 1973 until his retirement in 2008 that Jody took his music all around the World with Willie.

What a TEAM they were! Jody always said, “I play what Willie DOESN’T play. I lay down a foundation for Willie to improvise and then I get my own licks in to fill it all up. Sometimes the best music is the space ‘between’ the music and notes and that’s where I try to fit in and bring us all together.” Jody played an integral part in the making of such ground breaking albums as Willie’s Red Headed Stranger, Honeysuckle Rose, and Stardust to name but a few.

In the LIVE shows, Jody was known for singing Merle Haggard’s “Workin’ Man Blues” and also taking a turn as Willie’s duet partner for classics like “Seven Spanish Angels” and ”Pancho and Lefty.” His voice was totally unique with a timber that was both gravelly and silky at the same time. He was Country to the bone, but Jody had SOUL and he could also Rock N Roll as is evident on the awesome cover of “Heartbreak Hotel” with Jody, Willie and Leon Russell. They completely took one of “The King,” Elvis Presley’s signature numbers and turned it into their own foot stompin’, raucous, roadhouse blues jams complete with burning guitar solos from both Jody and Willie and Mickey Raphael’s Harmonica ride bringing the song to a feverish pitch. When asked about how that particular version came about, Jody replied, “We were just havin’ fun and jammin’ and thought we’d take ‘em back to Memphis. Plus, I got to throw in a few of my old friend Lonnie Mack’s tricks.”  Check It Out.

Jody also appeared with Willie on the silver screen in the movies “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Songwriter” as well as numerous television appearances including the classic Austin City Limits.

It was on a string of Tour dates back in 1997-1998 serving as the opening act for Willie Nelson that I got to finally meet Jody in person. I had no idea at the time that we would become the best of friends and family over the years. The first show was in Owensboro, Kentucky and I came out and played a 30 minute solo acoustic set to open the show. I had long been a huge fan of Willie Nelson and Family and had even dedicated my 1st solo album My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys to Willie, Waylon and David Allan Coe. That night, being young and excited to play in front of my heroes, I played ”My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” and I also played “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and dedicated them to Willie and Jody and all of the Family Band.

The late, great bass player  Bee Spears came to me at the end of my set and said, “Thanks for playin’ our songs kid,” and Jody came up and introduced himself, shook my hand graciously told me, “That was really great, son. Could I please have one of your CD’s, I really enjoyed your music.” I was in hog heaven with my Honky Tonk Heroes and then I realized that in my “youthful exuberance” I had just played two of Willie’s tunes right before he was going play them! Mortified that I may have just blown my chance to ever jam with them again, I told Willie that I had just messed up and sang their songs in my set. Willie just smiled that devilish grin of his and asked “Well did they like ‘em?” I nervously said, “Yeah they seemed to,” and Ol’ Willie just cracked up, patted me on the shoulder and said, “Well do ‘em again next time.” I let out a huge sigh of relief, pleasantly surprised that there would indeed be a “next time.” The so called “next time” ended up being at Ft. Lewis in Washington State. I was on the bill with Willie Nelson and Jimmie Dale Gilmore and had hopped a plane out to do the show.


Jody Payne, guitar player for Willie Nelson, passes

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Photo by the great Jay Janner

Guitarist Waylon was part of the Willie Nelson & Family band for 35 years before he retired in 2008. Baldwin County Coroner Stan Zinson says Payne died Saturday morning, at a local hospital. He said Payne got up early in his home in Stapleton, Alabama, feeling ill, and his wife Vicki called an ambulance.

Willie Nelson and Family, “Poncho and Lefty” “Til I Gain Control Again” (Amsterdam)

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Jody Payne, guitarist for Willie Nelson & Family for over 30 years, passes

Saturday, August 10th, 2013


James L. Payne, aka Jody Payne, electric guitarist for Willie Nelson for 35 years, has passed away. He died this morning (8-10) in Stapleton, AL due to cardiac arrest according to his wife Vicki. Payne had been suffering from heart problems for years prior.

Payne was part of Willie Nelson’s legendary “Family Band” for over 3 decades until he decided to retire from the road and began teaching guitar. He was born in in Garrard County, Kentucky where he began singing at six years old. Jody first played professionally with Charlie Monroe in 1951, and then was drafted into the army in 1958. After two years of service, he settled in Detroit where he initially met Willie Nelson in 1962, but did not start playing with him until years later. Throughout the 60?s Payne played bass for Ray Price, and also played with Merle Haggard among others before eventually joining Willie in 1973.

Payne was married to country singer Sammi Smith. The couple eventually divorced. They had a son Waylon Payne who is also a musician, performer, and actor. He is also survived by another son Austin Payne, and his wife Vicki who he married in 1980.

Willie Nelson’s Facebook page has posted, “Our friend will be missed.”

Rest in Peace, Jody Payne

Saturday, August 10th, 2013


Sending loving thoughts and prayers to Vicki Payne, Austin and Waylon, with the passing of Jody Payne.





Rest in Peace, Jody Payne

Saturday, August 10th, 2013


Jody’s wife, Vicky, shared these recent photos of Jody.



Jody Payne

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013


Jody Payne, former guitar player with Willie Nelson and Family, in Alabama.  Jody’s wife, Vicky, shared this photos.


Willie Nelson, Jody Payne

Thursday, January 17th, 2013


Jody Payne

Saturday, September 24th, 2011
by:  Jim Hannaford

It’s hard to leave any job you love, but after 35 years, Jody Payne knew it was time to settle down and do some other things.

For Payne, retirement meant stepping down from a coveted and unique musical role that he’d enjoyed for what amounts to more than half a lifetime — being a supporting but pivotal part of Willie Nelson’s iconic sound, on stage and in the studio for a staggering number of shows and songs. From 1973 until 2008, he was in fact Willie’s right-hand man, a stylishly shaggy, go-with-the-flow counterpart playing solid, nimble rhythm guitar and singing sweet harmonies. Along with the rest of the famed Family Band, he often spent most of the year on tour.

These days, Payne has settled down a bit into a quieter and more routine life in Stapleton. At the age of 75, he’s playing occasional gigs and teaching guitar lessons and is able to take a breath and relax.

“I always said that if I could live anywhere it would be in the middle of Baldwin County, and that’s just about where I am,” the easygoing Payne said with a chuckle. “I really like it here. It’s a small town with friendly people.”

Payne’s ties to the area date to the 1960s, when he first played clubs in and around Mobile with the likes of saxophonist Dave Sandy and rockers The Dalton Boys before he joined up with Willie. Later he ran a bar, Jody Payne’s Crystal Palace, for a couple of years on the Causeway.

His wife since 1980, the former Vicki Fisher, is a Mobile native, but Payne’s own roots are in Kentucky, where he and his family members were sharecroppers and musicians. He played bluegrass music growing up and first went on the road in the ’50s with Charlie Monroe, brother of bluegrass patriarch Bill. The young Payne played a variety of music, first with his father and sister in a “family band” and later with ’60s rock and R&B. He first met Nelson in 1962, but the two connected more deeply in the early 1970s when he was touring with Merle Haggard as well as his then-wife Sammi Smith, whose classic recording of “Help Me Make it Through the Night” topped the country charts and sold two million copies in 1971.

They first played together on a show in Nelson’s hometown of Abbot, Texas. An ensuing three-and-a-half-decade association saw the Family Band make a shift from roughneck bars and backwoods honky tonks to swanky Las Vegas showrooms and stadiums and a string of movies and award-winning soundtracks.

The laid-back, modest Payne considers himself fortunate to have been a part of the Willie phenomenon that made the Red-Headed Stranger one of the most popular performers ever.

“We created musical history. It wasn’t me, it was us,” Payne said. “I was just a small part of something people wanted to hear, and we entertained them.”

The Family Band did some 200 shows a year, maybe more, and later the schedule was trimmed down to about 150, he said. One of their buses was actually certified as having traveled a million miles, with the same driver and the same musicians aboard. With these numbers as a ballpark figure, this means that Payne played somewhere between 3,500 and 7,000 shows with Willie.

“I miss the guys and I miss the sound, but I don’t miss the bus,” he said. “It got to where you knew what city you were in because of what the auditorium looked like, not what the city looked like.”

Though he’s retired from the road, Payne said music will always be a part of his life. He hopes to do some recording soon and is enjoying playing with other area musicians, including his students at Picker’s Paradise, the music store in Stapleton where he is teaching guitar for the first time in his life. Alan Hartzell, general manager of the store, said Payne is a great addition.

“Jody’s always smiling, always level and, of course, he’s an amazing guitarist,” Hartzell said. “He’s great with kids, just as patient as he can be. He’s really humble for being who he is and for what’s he’s accomplished.”

Read article HERE.

Hello from Jody Payne

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Hey Everyone,

I just read all the comments on Still Is Still Moving.  

I am fine now and sure miss seeing everyone and visiting with all the fans.  You can get in touch with me at Jodysquat and if I ever find out how to do Facebook I’ll let you’all know where I’ll be playing and all about the new C.D.

By the way, I am giving guitar lessons at Picker’s Paradise in Stapleton Al.

Take care and God Bless,
Jody Payne