Willie Nelson's Longtime Guitarist Jody Payne Dies at 77

Willie Nelson's Longtime Guitarist Jody Payne Dies at 77
Jody Payne, who served for many years as Willie Nelson's guitarist, died this past Saturday (August 10) due to cardiac problems. He was 77.

A post on Nelson's website notes, "With a heavy heart Willie Nelson and Family are sad to report that Jody Payne passed away this morning."

There will not be a public funeral, and a memorial may be held later in the year.

The Associated Press reports that Payne had long suffered from cardiac issues. He apparently awoke feeling ill at his home in Stapleton, AL, and his wife Vicki called an ambulance. He later died in the hospital.

The Payne toured as the iconic songwriter's guitarist and backup singer from the early '70s up until 2008, when he retired from the road. He spent his later years teaching guitar. In his career, he also played with Merle Haggard, among others.

Payne was previously married to country singer Sammi Smith and they had a son, Waylon Payne, who is now a musician and actor. He later had another son, Austin, with his wife Vicki.