SWEAT, ISAAC PAYTON
SWEAT, ISAAC PAYTON (1945–1990). Isaac Payton Sweat, singer and instrumentalist, known as Ikey Sweat, was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on July 19, 1945. Ikey was born into a musical family. The nephew of country musician Moon Mullicanqv, he became heir to Mullican's writing and publishing catalog. Mullican, as well as Sweat's other uncles and his own father, Dawdie Sweat, traveled through Texas towns to play country music in dance halls.
Sweat began playing instruments at an early age, beginning with the banjo and then learning guitar and bass. He played in rock bands while attending Nederland High School and, after graduation, enrolled as a pre-med student at Lamar University, where he planned to minor in music. The conflict of musical nights with educational days led him to drop out of school in order to concentrate on music. In the 1960s he became the bass player for the nationally-renowned blues musician Johnny Winter. Sweat continued to play for Winter's bands (first the Crystaliers, later renamed the Coastaleers) occasionally in the 1970s and 1980s. A product of the times, Sweat dabbled with psychedelic rock before returning to country music, a genre he found nearest to his heart. Although he played ably in other genres, whenever he sang, he sang country music.
He had his first major success in the early 1980s with a vocal cover of Al Dean's instrumental standard, "Cotton-Eyed Joe." The song was popular, especially where people performed the eponymous dance. It was so popular, in fact, that Sweat became known as "Mr. Cotton-Eyed Joe." He performed regularly until his death. After returning from a show in Houston, Sweat was found shot dead in his garage in Richmond, Texas, on June 23, 1990. The case is still unsolved. Sweat had been married twice and had two children. Sweat is honored in the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame at the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur.
Houston Post, June 26, 1990.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Cathy Brigham, "SWEAT, ISAAC PAYTON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsw32), accessed May 22, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.