The Adams Brothers set to receive Founders of Sound Award

The Adams Brothers, brothers and musicians from Greenfield, will receive the Founders of the Sound Award at the 2023 Ameripolitan Music Awards on Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Guest House at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Adams Brothers were inducted into the Ohio Country Music Hall of Fame along with Johnny Paycheck in August of 2022 at the Keeping it Country Farm music venue in Waynesville, Ohio

The award will come posthumously for Gary Adams, who passed away Jan. 7, 2022 at the age of 78 at the Adena Greenfield Medical Center following a bout with COVID-19.

The three Adams brothers (Gary, Don and Arnie) were best known as the members of George Jones’ touring band — The Jones Boys — and for their time backing Paycheck, another Greenfield native, on tour as The Lovemakers. The brothers also played with Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins and Ray Price.

“I feel kind of guilty about it because this was always Gary’s goal to get recognition for what he has done, and it was never my goal or Don’s, and now Gary is gone, and we’re all three going to get the award,” an emotional Arnie Adams said. “I can’t get up about it. As a matter of fact I get down about it because I wanted Gary to get it.”

The Ameripolitan Music Awards were first established in 2014 by Texas musician and singer Dale Watson and held in his hometown of Austin, Texas until 2018. It honors musicians influential in the styles of honky-tonk, western, swing, rockabilly and outlaw music.

“Dale Watson is really strong on Johnny Paycheck and George Jones,” said Arnie. He said Kevin Smith, a former journalist who lives in Columbus, told Watson about the Adams Brothers. “Dale Watson said, ‘well, we’ve got to get the Adams boys on here.’ That’s basically how it all happened,” said Arnie.

“It’s not for me, it’s for the other people,” Arnie continued. “I could care less if anybody knows what I’ve done because I know, and that’s what mattered to me, and Don feels the same way, but Gary wanted a little more recognition than we did because he was the pioneer of me and him and Don.”

The three brothers were raised playing country music and were friends with Johnny Paycheck since childhood. They would go on to back many stars in concert including Patsy Cline, Little Jimmy Dickens, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash and many others.

The brothers were inducted into the Ohio Country Music Hall of Fame along with Johnny Paycheck in August of 2022 at the Keeping it Country Farm music venue in Waynesville, Ohio.

Arnie previously 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,” he said.

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 the 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.