Trace Adkins Cruise Ship Fight: Eyewitness Account from Love & Theft’s Stephen Barker Liles
By Tom Mailey, Pat Still and Kurt Wolff
Stories have been flying around for the last day regarding an alleged fight between country star Trace Adkins and an unnamed Adkins ‘impersonator,” which supposedly took place during a Country Cruising event in the Caribbean this week.
According to Love & Theft‘s Stephen Barker Liles, a “confrontation” did occur, but no punches were thrown. Liles was a performer on the cruise with his bandmate Eric Gunderson; other performers included Wynonna, Montgomery Gentry, Craig Morgan and JT Hodges.
Liles was not just on the cruise, it turns out he was an eyewitness to the event, and he recounted what took place in an exclusive interview on CBS Sacramento’s KNCI (a Radio.com station). He was just a few feet away when the incident happened, and seemed empathetic towards Adkins.
“You know, there’s only so much you can take when someone’s trying to be you,” Liles told KNCI. “[Eventually] you’re like, ‘Ok bro’, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, you’ve been following me around…and now you’re going to come on this small cruise ship….'”
Rumors have been circulating as to what exactly happened between Adkins and the unnamed impersonator ever since the story surfaced yesterday. Adkins had allegedly been drinking, after having been sober for 12 years, when he confronted the impersonator on the cruise ship.
Asked if there were any actual punches thrown, or any pushing or shoving, Liles said no, that Adkins “just confronted him” and “got up in his face.”
This wasn’t the first time Adkins had met his impersonator. The initial meeting was a friendly one that took place at Country Thunder festival in 2007, and it was actually caught on camera at the time by CBS Chicago station US99.5 (a Radio.com station). Watch that initial confrontation below:
Liles seemed to think part of the breaking point for Adkins may have been that the impersonator–who is still unnamed–had taken to signing autographs with a “mock Trace Adkins autograph,” a signature that looked very much like that of the real “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” singer. “It kind of gets you after some point,” Liles said.
“There’s only so much you can take if someone’s pretending to be you. It’s cool for a little while, and then you get in a confined space, and when the dude is mocking your autograph….”
Liles did, though, also have some empathy for the impersonator, saying it was obvious the guy felt genuinely bad to get dressed down in public by his idol. “He feels like he disappointed him,” Liles said.
After the confrontation on the cruise ship, Trace left the ship and checked back into rehab.