Greenfield’s own Arnie, Don, and Gary Adams were inducted into the Ohio Country Music Hall of Fame along with Johnny Paycheck at the Keeping it Country Farm music venue Saturday in Waynesville.
The award came posthumously to Gary Adams and Paycheck. Adams passed away Jan. 7, 2022 at the age of 78 at Adena Greenfield Medical Center following a bout with COVID-19. Paycheck died at 64 in 2003 after suffering from emphysema and asthma.
The three Adams brothers were best known as the members of George Jones’ touring band, The Jones Boys, and for their time backing Johnny Paycheck on tour as The Lovemakers. The brothers also played with Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins and Ray Price.
“I felt out of place, really, in there Saturday night receiving the award — Don and I both did because Paycheck and Gary had both spent their entire lives just for a smidgen of the recognition that we received there Saturday night,” said Arnie Adams. “They’ve got a better seat than we’ve got because I know Paycheck accepted God, and I know that Gary did too a long time ago even though they fell back like all of us do occasionally.”
Arnie said, “There was no quit in Johnny Paycheck,” about the artist’s dedication. “I know that Gary and Paycheck spent their entire lives just dedicated to music or undedicated to manual labor I guess,” he joked.
He credited Paycheck with kick-starting the musical success of the three brothers. “We all three owe whatever we had gained probably to Johnny Paycheck because he left here on his own and went to Nashville, and he had the talent to back him up.”
After meeting George Jones, Paycheck talked him into hiring him and the Adams brothers as his band.
“Of course, Paycheck, he lost his job — he lost a lot of jobs from being too much like George,” Arnie said about Paycheck’s tumultuous stints with Jones. “George fired him I don’t know how many times for just being too contrary.”
Arnie said Jones would often caution the band not to run up excessive phone or room service bills and Paycheck would not heed the warnings. The off-and-on times with Paycheck in the band went on the same way until the group parted ways with him permanently.
Eventually, the Adams brothers were fired by Jones as well. “He was drinking and missing a lot of shows, and sometimes we would go ahead and go on without him,” said Arnie. A few weeks after playing a group of shows without Jones, Arnie received a call from Jones’ manager asking for the money earned by the band and threatening to fire the group if they didn’t pay.
“I said well, tell George goodbye then because we worked for that money and we sent it home or brought it home, and it’s already gone,” said Arnie.
After the group’s time with Jones, their booking agent in Nashville set them up to be the backing band for Merle Haggard. Although Haggard had earned great success by this time, he still had low-paying contracts to honor, and it wasn’t enough to keep the band going with him.
Arnie also worked as the drummer for Little Jimmy Dickens along with his cousin Eddie Adams. “We went and did the Jimmy Dean Show plus other shows, but I mean that was ironic that I was right back there at the Jimmy Dean Show two or three weeks after I’d been there with George,” said Arnie.
In addition to working in the backing bands, each of the Adams brothers wrote some songs that appeared on country albums. “We wasn’t that much into writing,” said Arnie. Arnie penned the songs “Bayou Bum” and “Something He’ll Have to Learn” that were recorded by Paycheck. Gary wrote “All American Man” for Paycheck, and Don’s song “I Just Lost My Favorite Girl” was recorded by Jones.
“We didn’t have any hits out there,” said Arnie.
The brothers spent a long time working with some of country music’s greatest legends but eventually had to leave the business. “If you’re not making better money than we made — I’ll just put it that way — you can’t stay out there,” said Arnie.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.