Unable to make a living as a full-time musician, Mayes worked as a ranch hand and then as a painter for the Houston Independent School District. He retired from the latter job with disability pay. Mayes did perform whenever possible. He undertook tours in the 1970s and played frequently in the 1990s, even though his health had started to fail. In 1983, he inherited from an uncle ownership of his local dance hall. In 1986, Double Trouble Records of the Netherlands issued Texas Guitar Master, which included a live 'Battle of the Guitars' with Joe "Guitar" Hughes. In 1996, Mayes appeared on the bill of the Long Beach Blues Festival. By the time For Pete's Sake was released (1998), Mayes was still actively managing the Double Bayou dance hall. Following years of ill health, which included heart problems, diabetes and the amputation of both legs, Mayes died in Houston in December 2008, aged 70. He was survived by his wife, son and a brother.
29° 56.012, -095° 27.220
Houston National Cemetery