cornerstone of any successful career is dedication. The
ability to make a commitment and pursue it to completion
is especially important in the competitive business of
It might appear that Dennis was almost pre-destined to go
into music. His father, Charles Payne, was an early
member of the Light Crust Doughboys, who later became the
Texas Playboys. His Uncle Leon Payne was well known as
the writer of such country hits as "Lost
Highway," "Blue Side of Lonesome," and
"You Still Got a Place in My Heart". By the
time Dennis received his first guitar at age seven, he
already knew he would seek a career in music.
Besides the support of his family, Dennis was fortunate
to grow up in Bakersfield, California. During the 50's
and 60's Buck Owens, and later Merle Haggard, lived and
worked out of Bakerfield and owned studioes there,
creating a center for country music on the west coast.
Dennis credits both artists as early sources of
encouragement and would later gain valuable expereince
working in their studios.
In high school Dennis started playing in local bands and
appearing on live television. This brought him to the
attention of Red Simpson, a singer/songwriter with
Capitol Records. This friendship eventually resulted in
Dennis' first cuts as a writer by such well known artists
as Tommy Overstreet, Freddy Hart, and Vern Gosdin. This
period also provided Dennis with the opportunity to hone
his musical skills playing backup for touring artists
like Rose Maddox, Charlie Pride, Johnny Russell, and
Dennis felt ready to accept the challenge of moving to
Nashville to further his professional goals. The tall,
bearded musician sought all opportunities to perfect his
playing and singing talents, and made contacts by doing
session work and touring with various artists. In
addition, Dennis worked with several publishing companies
developing his craft as a songwriter.
The soft-spoken performer was also beginning to get a
feel for what would become his own unique style, a sound
he describes as "straight ahead real music for real
people." While Dennis cites such diverse influences
as Owens and Haggard, B.B. King, and Nat King Cole, he
stresses the value of being an individual. "I want
to be myself, have my own sound," he explains.
"My music is my personality. I don't have an act.
What I do is real."
Dennis is equally aware of the importance of working with
people who share his vision. "I have found that the
music is only about ten percent of what it takes,"
he comments. "You have to have people who believe in
you as a writer and entertainer. One thing I know for
sure, it can't be done alone."