I loved music, and because I had been introduced to Country music I had an opportunity to travel with a band Soddy Daisy, Tennessee called Danny Shirley and the Crossroads Band. My dad told me not to go because “Nothing good ever came out of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee.” I traveled with them for the next seven years of my life. We played bars and honky tonks, and fairs and festivals. For a couple of years, we played with Johnny Paycheck and David Allan Coe. If you got out of prison and played the guitar we were your band.
We signed a record deal and sold about six million records. I’ve been to the Grammy Awards. I’ve had Liza Minnelli step on my toe. I was in high cotton. I had all that and a bag of chips. But in the middle of the fame and fortune and what that life will bring you I found this void and emptiness. I began to fill it with my surroundings, which was women and alcohol. It wasn’t long until I found myself with a $70,000 a year cocaine addiction.
In 1997 I buried my brother, Roger, from an overdose. In October 1999 I had been up for a 5-day binge. I had blown everything in my life. I was afraid of the shadows on the wall. I walked around my house with a pistol in my belt, one in my hand, and my drugs in the other. I finally came to a crashing halt and passed out. When I woke up I was stuck to the floor in my own blood.
The band we ended up with, Confederate Railroad, had a song that said, “Jesus and mama always loved me even when the devil took control.” It was as if I had somebody sweetly singing that over me. I crawled to a telephone and called my mama. She had been praying for me. I said, “Mama, you gotta help me. If you don’t help me I’m gonna end up just like Roger.”
I knew what I needed to do. I walked in the doors of Bayside Baptist Church two miles from my house on Highway 58 in Harrison, Tennessee. I heard this incredible choir. It blew my doors off. Then the man of God got in the pulpit. I had tried to do it my way and my way ended up in the ditch. That day I surrendered everything I was to Christ, and man, He is everything to me. He’s my joy. He’s my peace. He’s my song. He’s my salvation. He has taken something that was so messed up and turned it around for his good and for his glory.