Updated: Mar 18
Some of the startling things our favorite artists have done..
Some of the shenanigans our revered performers have done range from
harmless, but stupid to he did what? I always point to human frailty y'all as none of us
are perfect, or unredeemable. Some of my top faves have been less than great humans
with offenses ranging from spousal abuse to attempted murder. Yet, the music still stands the test of time as a tribute to their collective genius, and maybe God's mercy on their lives.
The following snippets are a bit more obscure than other stories. Like we all know about Billy Joe Shaver, and Johnny Paycheck's attempted murder charge. And how about the story about Ernest Tubb shooting up an office building lobby. These stories
might be a little under the radar, but nonetheless interesting, sometimes funny, and
at times frightening! I've come to the realization from reading countless biographies
about my favorite artists that even though I love their music, some may have been a quarter of a bubble off, and in desperate need of therapy, meds, and love, lots of love..
With that being said, I'm happy that a person's fate or destiny is not left to us as it is impossible to excuse any crime against helpless children. It just goes to show that having incredible talent is not synonymous with being a great human being.
We love 90s country around here. One of the very top artists back in the day was Tim McGraw.
The songs ranged from heartfelt to fun, and back again. One of our favorites is Down On The Farm. It was the quintessential let's have some weekend fun type song. And we all need those for sure. But there is a thing or two you may not know about the songwriter Jerry Laseter.
So many talented people move to Nashville with high hopes, and full hearts. But very few ever get to realize those dreams. That was not the case with Jerry Laseter. In the 90s, he had cut after cut recorded by artists such as George Strait, Joe Diffie, George Jones, and Gary Alan among many others.
In the 1990s Jerry also caught the eye of living legend Tanya Tucker, who by then had been in the music business well over 20 years. Remember Tanya was barely a teenager when she released Delta Dawn. Jerry produced three albums for Tanya, but all failed to produce a top 10 hit. They began dating in 1994, and split up after three years. They got back together in 1997, and were engaged, but split up again in 1999. Tanya found out she was pregnant, and had their beautiful daughter Layla Lacosta Laseter.
Jerry, and Tanya tried to make things work for two more years, but called it quits in 2002.
However, Jerry kept working with Tanya. He is credited from 2002-2009 on several of Tanya's albums. There were several calls to the police from Tanya concerning Jerry all involving varying levels of abuse. Reports say five calls were made in a two year time frame. One of the incidents acussed Jerry of breaking into Tanya's house while she was sleeping and pouring ice water on her.
In 1999, he was ordered to attend anger management classes due to an altercation with Tanya that left her with a bruised forehead. In 2005, Tanya filed a protective order against Jerry due to the ongoing violence. In 2006, it seemed as if they were moving on with their lives as Jerry started dating one of Tanya's backup singers. However, in 2007, things took a turn for the worse.
Jerry Laseter with his girlfriend in tow, drove off with one of Tanya's tour trucks that contained Tanya's wardrobe, and jewelry. He then called Tanya, and demanded gas money in order to bring it back. She sent $1000.00. Jerry dropped the truck off at the Palace Station in Las Vegas.
When Tanya's people went to get the truck, they quickly realized that it was empty. The items were recovered and valued at over $500K. Jerry, and his girlfriend were arrested several days later for theft.
Tanya is such a big person, they still work together, and have co-parented Lacosta. A great lesson in forgiving, and moving on with ones respective lives. I did want to point out that Jerry is involved in Round Room Productions in Nashville. It's a safe space for artists to heal, and create amazing art in the process.
Michael Webb Pierce (August 8, 1921 – February 24, 1991
In the middle 50's he was the Honky Tonk King! He charted more number ones than anyone else during that time. Hank Williams had died in 1953, and Lefty Frizzell floundered after the death of his longtime producer Jim Beck.
Recently married in 1952, and riding high from his most recent #1 "There Stands The Glass"
Webb went to see a former local country singer now turned wrestler Cora Combs. She was a very popular performer, and won the National Wrestling Alliance United States Women's Championship (4 times). She was also eventually inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007, and the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2018.
On Dec 29, 1953, Cora was performing in Nashville's Hippodrome. .It was an at capacity crowd as there was a Southern Junior Heavyweight Title fight between Rowdy Roberts, and Fred Blassie. As the story goes, Cora, and Webb were friends from back in her singing days in Nashville. Webb was drunk, and tried to force his way into Cora's dressing room after the match. The police were called, and Webb was arrested for drunk, and disorderly conduct, AND resisting arrest.
We never quite find out why Cora said it was her fault. And who is the unidentified friend?
Freddy Bent Fender as my dad liked to call him had an unbelievably huge hit with Before The Next Teardrop Falls. It was not only a #1 Billboard country song, but also a huge crossover hit that topped the pop charts too! The song was ultimately named the 4th biggest pop hit of 1975.
You might think I'm going to call out Freddy Fender's early brush with the law that derailed his career for over a decade. Hard to believe that Freddy served three years in the Louisiana State Pen for Possession of Marijuana, dear God!.Thank God for Jimmie Davis, who at the time was the Governor of Louisiana, and intervened..
No, It's the song's producer Huey Purvis Meaux's story that sends chills down our collective spines.
Huey Meaux, Wolfman Jack & Freddy Fender
It would be very easy to dismiss The Crazy Cajun as he called himself because I didn't grow up listening to any of the records he produced. But when you start looking at the list of names that recorded his songs like B.J. Thomas, Doug Kershaw, Mickey Gilley, ZZ Top, Edgar Winters, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin.. He also produced over fifty eight platinum, and gold records. Five of which earned Academy of Country Music Awards.
For the record, Huey was not a songwriter. He was a producer that took over the publishing rights of unsuspecting songwriters that wanted to record. To his credit he had an amazing ear for talent, and a good song. He was also very deeply entrenched in the Houston area music scene when George Jones was on Pappy Dailey's StarDay Records label. Huey was riding in the backseat of the car when The Big Bopper wrote the mega hit Chantilly Lace.
For sure, part of Huey's popularity was due to his fame as a local DJ in Houston. As the video clearly shows, he was a rather colorful character on the airwaves. This is rumored to be his last show before Freddy Fender hit with "Before The Next Teardrop Falls". Huey was producing, and managing Freddy, and received the lion's share of everything. As a team, they went on to chart several hits, but by the 90's, the hits stopped coming. Freddy did go on to have a great career with the Texas Tornadoes, and appeared in several movies. he was also Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
On the other hand Huey, who had largely made his money from conning artists out of their royalties with nefarious contracts was raided by the Houston police on January 26, 1996. He was charged with possession of child pornography and possession of a controlled substance, which was cocaine. They found 1500 pornographic pictures, and several undeveloped rolls of film that also included minors as young as nine years of age.
The police officer said it was the biggest collection, he had ever seen in Houston. Huey was sentenced to 15 years, but was released early in 2003. He was free for four weeks, and lived at a halfway house until it was discovered that he once again was in possession of pornography, and was promptly returned back to prison. At the time, he was 73 years old.
It's all about the song! And generally speaking, Nashville is the place to be, especially, if you are a songwriter. In the 1990s there was one songwriter in particular that charted no less than 18 songs. The artists are a literal who's Who in 90s country. Clay Walker, George Strait, John Michael; Montgomery, and George Jones were all captured by the spell of Richard Fagan's pen.
Richard Fagan came to Nashville from Philadelphia, Pa after Tom Oteri discovered him. He was a drunk who came to the initial meeting stumbling, and even knocked a couple of bottles over along the way. Down, and out, and homeless. Tom Oteri, 9 years his junior, was an established Music Publisher, and believed in Richard's talent, and ultimately brought him to Nashville. They lived together for over 30 years. Initially, the arrangement was that Richard would focus on songwriting while Tom took care of everything else.
Gaetano Thomas Oteri
Tom sent several of Richard's songs out, but made a critical error. He did not include contact information. However, Neil Diamond fell in love with The Good Lord Loves You, and went as far as to hire a Private Investigator to track down the songwriter.. Throughout the over two decades with Tom, Richard had his highest charting hits with John Michael Montgomery.
On April 6th, 2008, all the major media outlets including The Chicago Tribune, People, Fox, TMZ, and CMT reported that Tom Oteri had been stabbed to death by songwriter Richard Fagan.
What may have attracted broad scale attention to the event was that Tom's daughter was once a comedian on Saturday Night Live, and still very much a Hollywood actress.
Apparently, Richard and Tom got into a fight, and Richard slashed Tom's wrist with his pocket knife. Tom screamed at him to leave the house, and Richard did. Both men were high. Tom on prescription drug fentanyl, and Richard on Tequila, and antidepressants. Richard left, and was charged with a DUI that same night. He bonded out, but was told to come back shortly after. When he came back to the jail, he was told that Tom was dead.
Amazingly enough, Tom's kids rallied in support of Richard. Remember this was a 30+ year relationship. With their support he was able to convince the judge that his intent had never been to kill Tom. The whole incident was a freak accident, and the judge agreed. The murder charge
was dropped. Richard killed Tom, but it was by mistake. He was remanded to rehab, and upon his release performed at the Bluebird Cafe.. When Tom Oteri died, he was 69. When Richard Fagan died several years later of liver cancer, he was also 69.
Most songwriters that come to Nashville are besides themselves when they finally get a publishing deal. It's a sign that a company believes enough in your music to want to put you on their payroll.
It was no different for Jeff Bates, hailing from Bunker Hill, Mississippi, when he got an album cut from one of the hottest country singers at the time Tracy Lawrence.
As you can tell, the song is heartfelt, and rings with the sincerity of the sacrifices our mommas are willing to make for us even till the very end. If we could only remember those sweet moments through life, how much easier would the tough times be.
Jeff was making the long weekly trek from Arkansas, where he was living to Nashville, mostly to write songs, and meet people in the industry. Exhausted, and full of self-loathing, and doubt, Crystal Meth was introduced to him by a fellow songwriters to take the edge off. After that, all he could think about was getting more. There was baggage from his life before the drug use that didn't help. For example, Jeff was adopted, and though his adopted parents love him, he couldn't help thinking that there had to be something wrong with him. Why else would his biological mom give him up?
Jeff Bates: Love Song
Infant Jeff was found on the front doorstep of the Bates home. He had double pneumonia, half-starved and covered in cigarette burns. The fact that Jeff survived that makes him a miracle baby. Someone upstairs wanted to keep him alive. But it is easy to understand why he felt the way he did about himself.
But for those that are reading this, and had similar experiences, just think of it this way, a child that is adopted was chosen from many. And those that aren't, and stay in an orphanage, are potentially there to shine their light, and help the other kids make it through. I strongly believe that every child is a gift that with proper care, and love can be a blessing to the world.
By 2001, Jeff was a full blown meth addict. He sold everything he owned including his music gear to support his addiction. When he ran out of his own material items, he started stealing from friends. On March 14th 2002, Nashville police found thousands of dollars of music equipment that Jeff had stolen. He was convicted, and spent three months in jail. While in, he got clean, got straight with God, and turned his life around.
He also got a deal w/ RCA Records, and charted seven hits. This story has any even happier ending as Jeff also got married, and is a proud poppa.
And for the record, Jeff paid everyone back when he was released from jail. How? He got a job
working construction for awhile. His song One Second Chance is about forgiveness, and moving on with your life. Always remember that forgiveness is about healing, and freeing yourself from bitterness, and sometimes hate. Don't be afraid to be the bigger person. All the good you do always comes back to you.