Friday Five: Wade Hayes

Ken Morton, Jr. | April 20th, 2012

Wade Hayes, the Oklahoma native celebrating his 42nd birthday today, has found himself making news for all the wrong reasons lately. He was recently diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer and is currently battling the debilitating disease. From 1994 to 1998, few artists were as popular on the charts as Hayes.  He charted 11 hits and six of those were top tens. But he’s been extremely active since that time as well. He’s played lead guitar for Randy Owen and released an outstanding and critically acclaimed independent album, Place to Turn Around, in 2009. With today’s Friday Five, let’s celebrate one of the good guys in country music and send well wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

5. “Wichita Lineman” 

Hayes has a great feel for this Glen Campbell cover that was released as a single, but never on an album, in between his second and third albums.


4. “Don’t Stop” 

A remarkable four singles made the top ten off of Hayes’ first album, Old Enough to Know Better. This was number three.


3. “Old Enough To Better” 

This song was Hayes’ first country music radio release and it remains his sole Number One hit.


2. “Tore Up From the Floor Up” 

Little did Hayes know that when Miss USA runner-up and future Survivor contestant Danni Boatwright was cast in this video, he’d end up marrying her. (They divorced after a four-year marriage.)


1. “The Day She Left Tulsa (In a Chevy)” 

Hayes dropped out of college to follow his country music dreams after watching Ricky Skaggs perform live at the 1991 ACM Awards. Anyone moved by Skaggs to that degree is tops in our book. This slow ballad shows off the rich baritone drawl that Hayes is best known for. Hopefully, we’ll hear more new music from Hayes in the near future.

  1. bob
    April 20, 2012 at 8:52 am

    In addition to your #’s 1 and 3, my favorite Wade Hayes songs include “I’m Still Dancing with You”, “On a Good Night”, “Up North (Down South, Back East, Out West) and “Steady As She Goes”. The last was written by Don Cook and Brooks & Dunn. Don’t know if B&D ever recorded it.

    Wade was one of the artists featured in Bruce Feiler’s book, “Dreaming Out Loud”, along with Garth & Wynonna.

    As you said, well wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

  2. luckyoldsun
    April 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    “From 1994 to 1998, few artists were as popular on the charts as Hayes. He charted 11 hits and six of those were top tens.”

    Hey, I like Wade Hayes, but why misstate the recent past. Lots of artists were more popular on the charts from 1994-98. Beginning as early as ’96, Hayes’ singles tanked, with a couple of modest exceptions.
    He probably sounded too gruff and too country for what country radio was playing at the time.

  3. Occasional Hope
    April 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I love ‘The Day She Left Tulsa’.

  4. Rick
    April 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    “Old Enough To Know Better” ranks as one of the best country albums I purchased new back in the 1990’s. In my mind its similar to the Randy Travis debut “Storms of Life” in being truly exceptional at the time it was released compared to most contemporary mainstream Nashville competing “product” available.

    I hope Wade makes a full recovery and starts cranking out more high quality music like his early efforts. Not that AirHead Country Radio would notice…

  5. luckyoldsun
    April 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    It’s a bit of a mystery why Hayes’ career tanked after he had such a promising start. Maybe the timing was just a little off. He came on the scene slightly after the post-Travis New Traditional wave of Clint, Garth, Jackson, Tim, Chesnutt, Diffie, Kershaw, Lawrence, et al and the “quota” may have been filled. There was also an issue of song selection. His first album started off strong with the epic title song “Old Enough To Know Better”–but that album and the following ones got bogged down with too many so-so songs written by his producers. And then his label was panned for trying to introduce an album with a single of “Wichita Lineman”, a Glenn Campbell cover.

    In any event, Hayes seemed to be cursed. There would be articles in Billboard about him cutting albums–solo ones, or as part of some Brooks-Dunn/Montogmery-Gentry type combo called “McHayes”–and then the albums would never appear and there would be no explanation.

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