KNCI Exclusive: Stephen Barker Liles and What Really Happened with Trace Adkins on that Country Cruise

What really happened with Trace Adkins on the cruise ship? No punches were thrown. There was, however, a confrontation.

According to Love and Theft’s Stephen Barker Liles, who happened to witness that whole recent Caribbean cruise ship incident between Trace Adkins and a Trace Adkins impersonator and called KNCI’s Pat and Tom the day after it happened to share what he saw. Stephen was on board the so-called “Country Cruise” because he and band mate Eric Gunderson were performing, along with artists like Eddie Montgomery, Craig Morgan, TJ Hodges and Trace, who was the headliner.

Stephen, who’s appeared at numerous KNCI events including Golf and Guitars and Country in the Park, was just a few feet away when the incident happened, and seemed empathetic towards Trace.

“You know, there’s only so much you can take when someone’s trying to be you,” Stephen explained. “(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…'”

Stephen seemed to think part of the breaking point for Trace may have been that the impersonator–who is as of yet still unnamed–had taken to signing autographs as Trace with a signature that looked very much like Trace’s. Asked if there were any actual punches thrown, Stephen said no “he just confronted him.”

Stephen also held some empathy for the impersonator, saying it was obvious he felt genuinely bad to get dressed down by his idol.

The larger issue with the incident of course is that it seems precipitated by Trace’s drinking. 12 years ago Trace gave up booze after an intervention from family and friends. In 2011, Trace told the Hollywood Reporter that if he hadn’t given up drinking, it very likely would have cost him his career, which explains why Trace hastily left the ship as soon as it reached port and checked himself back into rehab. And on that point, we wish Trace all the best.

To hear Stephen’s account with Pat and Tom, click here

More from Tom Mailey

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