As a young, aspiring country artist, Clay Walker cut his teeth playing small Texas bars. Before he was even old enough to get a drink, the “Need a Bar Sometimes” singer experienced one of his most unforgettable moments on his road to superstardom at one of those bars. Walker once witnessed longtime pals and country icons Merle Haggard and George Jones get into a heated debate while knocking back drinks. On Outsider’s latest installment of “The Road You Leave Behind,” Walker sits down with Marty Smith to relive the wild memory.
Walker certainly had a night he would never forget when he found himself seated a few feet away from Haggard and Jones at the bar. The country singer was just 16-years-old at the time. He wasn’t old enough to drink anything harder than the cherry coke that he was sipping on. The three musicians were playing at the bar and were within the same vicinity.
Walker overheard an argument that Jones and Haggard seemed to be having. Like diners, there aren’t many secrets at bars with everyone within earshot of one another. The two country legends seemed to be arguing over the horns that Haggard used during his performance. Jones insisted that the instruments were out of tune, and he hated the sound of them when Haggard played.
But Haggard insisted that he could do whatever he wanted and disagreed with Jones’ criticism. Despite their bickering, Walker believed that both Jones and Haggard were the best of friends and cared for each other.
“They loved each other though. They absolutely adored each other,” Walker said.
Clay Walker Talks With George Jones
A day later, Walker got to talk with Jones himself. The country music legend was impressed by Walker’s talent. He approached Walker after his soundcheck to give him his thoughts. Walker received Jones’ seal of approval, and the country icon believed Walker had what it took to make it in the business.
“Jones came in for my soundcheck and talk about intimidating. He goes, you’re going to make it,” Walker said. “You don’t have it right now, but I know you’re going to make it. You’re going to have to hone your skill. But I hear it.”
During that same few days period, Walker also met Johnny Paycheck as well. He was actually opening for the singer, and Paycheck, wearing sweatpants, stepped off his tour bus to take a picture with Walker. The singer never forgot his brush with the music legends at the bar and their impact on his career.