GARY'S TESTIMONY — IN HIS OWN WORDS:
(Partial. About 2% of it!)
My name is Gary S. Paxton. I’m a composer/writer. I’m NOT a performer. I don’t do concerts — I don’t claim to be a singer. I’m a writer.
I hate my testimony. I’m ashamed of my testimony. But I share it, because if just one person can find Jesus, then it is the thing to do. The best testimony in the world is “saved at 6, called into the ministry at 7, and headed for Heaven!”
I was born 70-plus years ago in Coffeyville, Kansas. I was raised on a farm — no electricity, no plumbing, no water — we pulled it out of a well by hand.
I was molested when I was 7. I started writing songs when I was 10. I had spinal meningitis at 11. We moved to Arizona when I was 12 years of age. I had my own rock-and-roll band by the time I was 14.
When I was 16 years old, I wrote my first million-seller, recording it at age 17. The song was, “It Was I.” I was 18 when the song was released by Flip and Skip. This was also the age at which I had to register for the U.S. military draft.
One day, when I was sitting in a restaurant, a woman walked up to me and said, “May I talk with you … I’m your mother.” I was in total shock! I had never been told I was adopted. I was very confused. In the same time frame my first record — “It Was I,” by Skip and Flip — was out. I went to New York and did TV shows and tours with the great Alan Freed (who named “rock and roll”) and also the “Dick Clark Tours.” Instant stardom! Too much too fast, after being so poor for so long.
“Cherry Pie” was the next cut. It was a million-seller. I went to Hollywood in 1969, and there I cut, “Alley-Oop.” It was a multi-million seller! I was part of the Sunset Strip hippie movement, the Sea Witch, the Whiskey A-Go-Go and etc. A year or so later I produced, “Monster Mash” — another million-seller, 3 times (1962, ’67 and ’74). During that time period I cut several other million-sellers with Tommy Roe and The Association, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and numerous jazz artists — among them, The Four Freshmen.
My mother told me she was half Native American — Kickapoo Indian — and half Scotch. She said my father was half Jewish, half red-headed Irishman. So, that makes me an “Inju.” I did a lot of social work with the Yaki Indians in the Piute mountains.
I moved to Bakersfield, California, had a lake marina, hotel and cabins in the mountains. Also, a radio show and a music store. Unfortunately, I wound up in mental institutions twice — once for alcoholism and once for drugs. I had several recording studios in Hollywood and Bakersfield from 1959 to 1970 where I produced over a thousand artists. However, due to drugs and alcohol, I lost it all in 1970. I decided to move to Nashville that year. While there I wrote and produced many hit songs. In all, I produced about 700 artists during the 29 years I was in Nashville.
I was very strung out, in all ways, and in 1971 my business partner committed suicide. It stopped me in my tracks. I walked into a church — stoned on drugs — and got saved!
I continued to have many country and gospel hits as an artist, writer, publisher and producer. I was also involved in some big TV shows — 700 Club, PTL, etc.
In 1980, two men were hired to murder me over a contract dispute. They beat my head in with a pipe, broke both of my shoulders and shot me three times with a .38.
All the while during the attack I continued to yell, “In the name of Jesus, you can’t kill me!” While I was down sick, my studio partner embezzled me out of half-a-million dollars. The FDIC forced me into involuntary bankruptcy and took all of my royalties for ten years. Then the IRS billed me for $432,000 for the money the FDIC took!
At this point I developed bleeding ulcers, lost 80% of my blood, started having a stroke and was rushed to Baptist Hospital. I was given 8 blood transfusions over time, which resulted in my acquiring hepatitis C.
In 1999 my soon-to-be wife, Vicki Sue Roberts, helped me move to Branson, Missouri. We were married on Valentines Day of 2002.
Throughout my career, I have written more than 2000 songs and had over 600 recorded. About 150 of them have become “hits” in one way or another. “He WasThere All The Time” has been recorded over 100 times in 5 languages. I’ve been privileged to write many songs with Bill and Gloria Gaither.
If I am asked what is my favorite song of all time, I will answer: “I'd Rather Have Jesus.”
I’m not a performer. I’m a writer.
Gary S. Paxton