This gallery is brought to you courtesy of my good friend Brian Dunleavy, a Paycheck completest! All the Paycheck LPs & 45s, with the exception of
the Epic and Little Darlin' 45s, are shown here.
Here's a brief bio by Brian:
Johnny Paycheck's career can be generally summed up in three phases. Born Donald Eugene Lytle in Greenfield, Ohio (1938), Paycheck started as a sideman
for George Jones, Ray Price, and other established stars. His early solo efforts had him billed as Donny Young for a series of rockabilly-influenced singles.
Partnering with record producer and promoter Aubrey Mayhew, he changed his name to Johnny Paycheck, and ultimately released a series of singles and albums
on the tiny Little Darlin' label. Though they didn't make much of an impact on the charts at the time, these early sides, most of which feature the steel
guitar wizardry of Lloyd Green, are today revered as some of the most powerful, authentic, and darkly twisted honky tonk music ever recorded.
Paycheck's middle period found him signing with Epic Records. Within this period alone, his career went through three fairly distinct stages, tracking
somewhat closely with the changing colors of the Epic record labels. His early Epic sides on yellow labels featured Billy Sherrill's slick Nashville
production attempting to position a clean-cut Paycheck as a countrypolitan crooner. The mid-period Epic sides on orange labels feature a bearded
Paycheck in cowboy hat, riding his breakout hit "Take This Job and Shove It" to the top of the popular outlaw era being ushered in by Waylon & Willie.
Paycheck's audience exploded at this time, and he seemed more than happy to play up to (or down to, depending on one's perspective) their rowdy expectations.
Finally, the later blue label Epic sides show Paycheck as a reckless, cocaine-fueled, out-of-control disaster waiting to happen. His duet album with his old boss,
George Jones, during this time is widely considered the nadir of the careers for both of these stars.
Paycheck's final phase was marked by further recklessness, a stint in prison for shooting a man, and sincere efforts to turn his life around and find
redemption. After blowing his run on Epic, he was given one more shot with the majors, resulting in a one-and-done deal with Mercury Records. His sole
Mercury album contained his surprisingly self-aware and touchingly remorseful autobiographical song, "Old Violin." This was followed by a series of singles
released on a variety of obscure independent labels. Paycheck's struggle to stay on the right path and resist the pull of his addictive temptations is on
display in many of these later sides. In 1988 alone, he released "Out of Beer," an ode to drinking on the Desperado label, followed by "Scars,"
a come-to-Jesus plea on the Damascus label. Paycheck's career ended on an up-note, however, when he was finally and gratefully inducted into the
Grand Ole Opry in 1997. Johnny Paycheck died in 2003, at the age of 64.