Longtime Willie Nelson Guitarist Jody Payne Dead at 77
Celebrated country musician Jody Payne has passed away. The guitarist, best known for his three decades playing with Willie Nelson, was 77 years old.
According to Billboard, Payne died at 5:12AM on Saturday (Aug. 10) as a result of heart problems. Payne's wife called an ambulance after he complained of feeling ill. He died at the hospital. Payne had a long history of cardiac problems.
Payne joined Nelson's Family Band in 1973, playing guitar, singing harmony, and eventually serving as Nelson's right hand man. He remained an active touring member until 2008, when he retired and settled in Stapleton, Ala. He was living there at the time of his death, occasionally performing and giving guitar instruction.
“I miss the guys and I miss the sound, but I don’t miss the bus,” Payne told the Mobile Press-Register in 2011. “It got to where you knew what city you were in because of what the auditorium looked like, not what the city looked like.”
Still, he had no regrets about his life and career. “We created musical history. It wasn’t me, it was us,” he stated. “I was just a small part of something people wanted to hear, and we entertained them.”
Nelson posted the following statement to his website:
With a heavy heart Willie Nelson and Family are sad to report that Jody Payne passed away this morning.
He is survived by his wife, Vicki, sons Waylon and Austin, and the many family and friends. We understand that he will not have a public funeral and a possible memorial will be held later this year.