Trace Adkins' decision to leave a cruise ship to seek treatment for alcoholism followed a verbal altercation with a fan who was impersonating him.
The story had been reported by several media outlets, but Love and Theft's Stephen Barker Liles provided a first-person account of the incident during a Thursday morning (Jan. 16) interview on the Pat and Tom show on country radio station KNCI in Sacramento, Calif.
Adkins, Love and Theft and several other country acts were performing during the country music-themed cruise of the Caribbean. Others included Montgomery Gentry, Wynonna, Frankie Ballard, Craig Morgan, Neal McCoy, Lonestar and JT Hodges.
Adkins entered an alcohol rehab treatment facility Wednesday (Jan. 15) after leaving the cruise, a spokesperson confined.
Liles said he was watching Hodges' concert when he witnessed Adkins' argument with the impersonator, who has not been identified.
"There's this guy that impersonates Trace, and he's signing autographs," Liles told the radio station. "He even does a mock Trace Adkins autograph. It kind of gets you after some point.
"Trace has had a long, successful career, but at some point, it's got to be like, 'Dude, I'm so over this. And now you're gonna come on this cruise ship where you're gonna be signing autographs, looking just like me, trying to be me.' It's got to get old, right?"
Emphasizing that Adkins did not physically strike the impersonator, Liles said he "confronted him" and "just got up in his face."
Liles felt some compassion for the impersonator.
"The reason he impersonates him is because he's a big fan," he said. "It made the guy really sad because he feels like he disappointed him."
After pleading guilty to a DUI charge near Nashville in 2001, Adkins has spoken openly about his alcoholism and recovery.
However, Liles said part of the problem on the cruise ship appeared to stem from the close quarters the passengers had shared for several days.
"There's only so much you can take of someone pretending to be you," he said. "It's cool for a little while, but then you get in a confined space. And when a dude is mocking your autograph, trying to look just like you, it's like, 'OK, bro. I've been doing this for 20 years. You've been following me around for 20 years. And now you're going to come on this small cruise ship?' ... He'd had enough, I guess."
Referring to Adkins, Liles added, "I wanted to clear it up because I get where he's coming from."