If you're ever in Steve Earle's library, look for a book with the inscription, "To Steve, I sure am glad I didn't pull the trigger." That message appears in the autobiography of Johnny Bush - a fellow country singer who nearly gunned down Earle back in the 70s when a case of the munchies almost proved fatal.
The story began one night in San Antonio, where Earle was playing late-night sets at the Roth Baron restaurant.
"I did two evening gigs after the major dining hours were over," Earle recently told Rolling Stone. "There was a guy named Joe Voorhees who was in Bush's band. Bush was like Van Morrison, everybody worked for him at least twice because he fired people all the time. After a while he'd forget that you worked for him and he'd hire you back. Voorhees played piano in Bush's band, but he was a pretty good five-string banjo player. He used to come sit in with me."
After sets, they liked to relax with a drink and a joint. And that's where the trouble started.
"One night, we got really stoned and didn't need to be driving. Probably drank a little bit, too, but we smoked a bunch of really strong pot. I lived in Cibilo, which was 45 minutes away but we needed to come down a little bit. We were hungry. Voorhees goes, 'Hey, Bush is in Vegas and I've got the keys to his condo.' We went over there and raided Johnny Bush's icebox. I'm sitting there, just eating the way you eat when you smoked a bunch of pot, a big bowl of Rice Krispies with some bananas in it."
That's when a pistol-wielding Bush crashed the party.
"All of a sudden, I look up at Joe and all the color had drained from his face, like a fucking cartoon or something. He goes, 'John!' I turn around and there's Johnny Bush in a bathrobe with a .357 Magnum pointed right at the back of my head 12 inches away."
But despite not getting off on the right foot, the two became close friends soon after. They even sang 'Walkin' in LA' together on Earle's latest album - 'So You Wannabe an Outlaw' (2017).