Jody Payne Died Today at 77
According to Wikipedia, He was born James L. Payne in Garrard County, Kentucky. He and his sister, Imogene Payne (born 1934), sang together when they were five and six years old. He sang and played the mandolin for Imogene’s first year graduation and that was the beginning of his music career. His next performance was when he was about 10 or 11, they sang with his father on a radio show on WHIR in Danville.
In 1951, Payne went on the road with Charlie Monroe for a time. After he returned home, the family moved to Cincinnati. He was drafted into the Army in 1958 and served two years. He was discharged in 1960 and, in the spring of 1961, went to Detroit and started playing at the West Fort Tavern.
He first met Willie Nelson in about 1962 in Detroit. Nelson was playing bass with Ray Price. Payne started working with Nelson in November 1973. Before that, he played for Merle Haggard. After playing with Willie Nelson for 35 years he retired from Nelson’s band in 2008.
Payne and country singer Sammi Smith married, but later divorced. They had one son, musician/singer/actor Waylon Payne (born 1972). He and his later wife, Vicki, were married in about 1980. They had a son, Austin Payne (born 1981).
Jody Payne remained active as a musician until his death. He and his wife, Vicki, lived in Stapleton, Alabama.