Cledus T. Judd Hopes You’ll Learn from His Mistakes
You might have known that Cledus T. Judd once battled a drug problem, but you probably didn't know about the suicide attempts. If you knew about the suicide attempts, you probably didn't know about the homelessness. If you knew about all of that, you certainly didn't know about the $2 million contract in paradise he turned down so he could move to Kentucky.
Judd had been candid about his checkered past prior to sitting down to talk to Taste of Country, but the comedian has rarely shown the emotion seen in this episode of Unfiltered. A simple question inspired a flood: what is his comeback going to look like?
"Different," he began after a pause. Twenty minutes later, with few follow-up questions asked, Judd left a room moved and inspired, much like he hopes to do moving forward. On this day, he was ready to share.
Judd's career started with a parody of Tim McGraw's "Indian Outlaw" called "Indian In-Laws," and throughout the late '90s and early '00s he was a household name as a country comedian. Parodies of songs by Toby Keith, the Dixie Chicks and Garth Brooks (wait until you hear the story he tells about his parody of "In Another's Eyes") earned him radio airplay and touring spots with Keith, Brooks & Dunn and Keith Urban. He fondly recalls playing in the Major Leagues (his words) and admits that when it all went away, it was difficult. Shortly after taking a radio job in West Virginia in 2012, he took another job rebuilding houses.
"There were times in those run down, dilapidated houses, rat-infested — and I would take my phone out and sit on the steps by myself and look at my old videos like, 'Man, you did good,'" he recalls.
"When awards shows would come on ... it just hurt. Because I had a seat," he continues. "I didn't win nothing, but I had a seat. I sat beside Toby, I sat with Darius, I sat with Keith Urban. Those were my friends. And it would hurt."
For the most part, work dissolved by choice. Judd admits he'd peaked when he started a second career in radio. Throughout the last half of the '00s, he was a big deal in Tampa, Florida — to the tune of $2 million, actually. But his heart was with his daughter in Kentucky.
"Every third week I would drive about 1,100 miles. I never missed in seven years," Judd says. "It's just the pain of having to say goodbye and go back to an empty house when I was in Tampa."
In 2015, the "270 Something" and "I Love NASCAR" singer quit touring for good, but recently his mentor, Ray Stevens, invited him back for a single performance. That led to "(Weight's Goin') Up Down, Up Down," a parody of Morgan Wallen's "Up Down," which is likely to lead to even more like it.
Watch Unfiltered to learn the brutal details of Judd's early career and how he agonized over a decision that could have set his family up for life. Eventually, he did share what a comeback will look like. The question begins and ends with his now-teen daughter, Caitlyn.
"My daughter said, 'If you're just gonna go do it to stand on that old hay truck ... I'd rather you just hang here," Judd says. "But if you want to go out and make people laugh like you used to do and entertain 'em and be an inspiration to 'em, I'll just be waiting on you when you get back."
Watch More of Taste of Country's Unfiltered