Country music fans knew him as Joe Pain, but his parents, Noah and Ester Trent
gave him the name Ernest C. Trent when he came into the world in December 1944
in Harlan, Kentucky. This was not your typical family. There were ten boys and eight
girls in all. And when company came to visit, he had to sleep out in the smokehouse
so the guests would have a place to retire.
Joe joined the U. S. Army and was stationed at Ft. Benning, Georgia from 1963 to 1965.
During that stint in the military service, he learned to play the guitar and started
singing again. Before joining the service, his singing was done mostly at the local church.
When he was discharged from his military duties, he moved to the state of Michigan.
A fellow by the name of Paul Wade liked what he heard and became Joe's personal
Joe (or maybe at that time, Ernie) got a break when a friend and business
acquaintance, Faron Young, asked Johnny Paycheck, who was affiliated with Little Darlin'
records to listen to Joe. As luck would have it, Johnny came to the Lucky Eleven Club
in November of 1966 and allowed Joe to be a part of the entertainment package during
his stint. At some point before they performed in front of the audience, Joe
sang a tune or two for Johnny and Paul. Johnny liked what he heard and offered Paul
a one year contract for Joe's services.
In February 1967, Joe embarked on a week-long tour of the Detroit area with Mr. Paycheck
and his band. Around that same time, the manager of the WWVA Jamboree, Lee Sutton, called
Johnny and asked him to make an appearance. Johnny told Lee about Joe's talents and Mr. Sutton
asked Johnny to appear as well. They were to appear on the WWVA Jamboree on February 18, 1967.
On that evening, he was given two spots on the Jamboree. While he was nervous, he
found comfort in the encouragement that many of the Jamboree stars were giving him.
Finally, Ernie had his turn on the stage and he just let himself sing for the moment.
The fancs enjoyed it and were in fact applauding for more. He did indeed do one more
song for an encore. After the show, he was signing autographs for the fans and a man
happened to come up to him and say, "Ernie, you brought tears to my eyes, I could
even feel the pain." And as the story goes, Ernie Trent was no longer his stage name.
He became Joe Pain from that point on. Lee Sutton signed Joe to a contract as a regular
on the WWVA Jamboree.
But after several months, Joe had to resign from the roster. His popularity was such that
his personal appearance bookings were taking him more and more to Canada, making it
more difficult for him to return to Wheeling on Saturday nights.
At one time, Joe's fan club was headed up by Evelyn Otteson of Jackson, Mississippi.
Credits & Sources
- The King's Herald; Claude King Fan Club; Seventh Edition;
January - February 1969
- Country Music Life; 'Fan Club Guide' May, June, July, November and December
1968; Country Music Life Publications;