Waylon Arnold Jennings

Is your surname Jennings?

Research the Jennings family

Waylon Arnold Jennings's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Waylon Arnold Jennings

Birthdate: (64)
Birthplace: Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas, United States
Death: February 13, 2002 (64)
Chandler, Maricopa County, Arizona, United States (Complications from diabetes)
Place of Burial: Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of William A Jennings and Lorene Beatrice Shipley
Husband of Private; Private and Maxine Caroll Jennings
Father of Private; Private; Julie Rae Burdette; Private and Private

Occupation: Singer-songwriter, musician, Country Western Singer, Song Writer, Actor and Balladeer for the TV Show Dukes of Hazzard
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Waylon Arnold Jennings

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waylon_Jennings

Waylon Arnold Jennings (June 15, 1937 – February 13, 2002) was an American country music singer, songwriter, and musician. He started out as a bassist for Buddy Holly following the break-up of The Crickets. Jennings escaped death in the February 3, 1959, plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, when he gave up his seat to Richardson who had been sick with the flu. Urban legend and Hollywood folklore have it that Jennings and The Big Bopper flipped a coin for the last seat on the plane, with Jennings losing. It was, in fact, Tommy Allsup who flipped the coin for the fated plane trip, losing his seat to Valens.

By the 1970s, Jennings had become associated with so-called "outlaws," an informal group of country musicians who worked outside of the Nashville corporate scene. Jennings was largely responsible for revolutionizing country music in the 1970s with his progressive sound. A series of duet albums with Willie Nelson in the late '70s culminated in the 1978 crossover hit, "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." In 1978 (first broadcast early 1979), he recorded the theme song for the hit television show The Dukes of Hazzard, and also served as the narrator ("The Balladeer") for all seven seasons of the series.

He continued to be active in the recording industry, forming the group The Highwaymen with Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. Jennings released his last solo studio album in 1998. In 2001, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Early life and career

Jennings was born in Littlefield, Texas, the seat of Lamb County, the son of Lorene Beatrice (née Shipley) and William Alvin Jennings. When Waylon was eight, his mother bought him his first guitar, a Harmony Patrician. She very patiently taught him how to play guitar, and Waylon formed his first band two years later. Waylon was kicked out of music class at school for lack of musical ability; he never learned to read music. During his time working as a DJ, he befriended Buddy Holly. The two were inspired by the music of the Mayfield Brothers of West Texas: Smokey Mayfield, Herbert Mayfield, and Edd Mayfield. When he was twenty-one, Jennings was tapped by Holly to play bass in Holly's new band on a tour through the Midwest in early 1959. Holly also hired guitarist Tommy Allsup and drummer Carl "Goose" Bunch for the "Winter Dance Party" tour.

During the early morning hours of February 3, 1959, the charter aircraft that carried Holly, Valens, and Richardson crashed outside Clear Lake, Iowa, killing all aboard. In his 1996 autobiography, Jennings admitted that, in the years afterward, he felt severe guilt and responsibility for the crash. After Jennings had given up his seat, Holly jokingly told Jennings, "I hope your ol' bus freezes up!" Jennings shot back facetiously, "Well, I hope your ol' plane crashes!" It was a statement that would haunt Jennings for the rest of his life.

Phoenix

After several years of inactivity, during which time he moved from Texas to Arizona and continued working in radio, Jennings began performing and recording again, this time in Phoenix, Arizona. He performed at a newly opened nightspot called JD's. He signed a contract with Herb Alpert's newly-formed A&M Records, and he had a few hit singles on local radio in Phoenix, including "Four Strong Winds" (written by Ian Tyson) and "Just To Satisfy You" (co-written with Don Bowman). He also recorded an album on the BAT label, called simply JD's. 500 copies were pressed and sold at the nightclub and, after they sold out, another 500 copies were pressed by the Sounds label. He also played lead guitar for Patsy Montana on a record album that she recorded in Arizona in 1964. Duane Eddy and Bobby Bare recommended Jennings to producer Chet Atkins, who signed Waylon to RCA Victor. Bobby Bare did his own cover of "Four Strong Winds" after he heard Jennings's version. Still under contract to A&M, Alpert released him which allowed him to sign with RCA Records. Jennings packed up and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1965.

The Nashville sound

Jennings was accustomed to performing and recording with his own band, The Waylors; this was a practice that was not encouraged by Nashville producers who controlled nearly every aspect of recording. Over time, however, Jennings felt limited by the Nashville sound and the lack of artistic freedom that came with it, in the 1960s country music industry.

His second marriage was to Lynn Jones. He got married for a third time to Barbara Rood. He married for the fourth and final time to Jessi Colter in 1969. Colter (then known as Miriam Eddy) had been married to guitar legend Duane Eddy. With help of Jennings, Colter became a country singer in her own right for a brief period of time during the 1970s and was best known for her 1975 country-pop smash, "I'm Not Lisa".

Jennings had grown more frustrated with the Nashville recording scene and in 1972 a battle with hepatitis almost killed him. With his recording contract nearing an end, RCA had already lost another creative force that year: Jennings had met Willie Nelson, who had likewise felt frustrated by the lack of freedom in the studio and by the entire Nashville ethos, which led him to relocate his base to Texas, two years earlier. Jennings seriously considered leaving Nashville and returning to a broadcasting career in Phoenix that year.

Outlaw

Two things came along to turn Jennings's hard times around. The first was a business manager from New York City, named Neil Reshen, and the second was his old friend Willie Nelson. Reshen approached Jennings, who was still recovering from hepatitis, and offered to re-negotiate his recording and touring contracts. Jennings agreed and the contract re-negotiation began in earnest. At a 1972 meeting in a Nashville airport, Jennings introduced Reshen to Nelson. By the end of the meeting, Reshen was manager to both singers. By that time, Jennings was aware of the fact that rock bands had almost unprecedented creative freedom to record what they wanted to record, with or without a producer and even to design their album covers. He wanted similar freedom for himself—an unprecedented move in 1972 Nashville. Also in 1972, RCA issued Ladies Love Outlaws, an album that Jennings never wanted released.

Reshen drove a hard bargain but RCA finally agreed to his terms: a $75,000 advance and near-complete artistic control. Re-negotiations of his touring contracts yielded similar positive results and he began turning a profit from his touring (almost unheard-of in Nashville at that time). Waylon finally had a rock star recording contract and he looked the part; Reshen had advised him to keep the beard that he had grown in the hospital, in order to cultivate a more rock and roll image.

By 1973, Nelson had returned to the music industry under the auspices of Atlantic Records, and was on his way to music superstardom.

Now based in Austin, Texas, Nelson had made inroads into the rock and roll press by attracting a diverse fan base that included the young rock music audience. Atlantic Records had signed Nelson when the time was right and they looked to sign Jennings as well. Nelson's rise to popularity made RCA nervous about losing another hot artist, which gave the leverage that Jennings needed in his contract re-negotiations.

He followed with Lonesome, On'ry and Mean and Honky Tonk Heroes in 1973, the first albums recorded and released under his own creative control. The albums were huge commercial and critical successes. More hit albums followed, with The Ramblin' Man and This Time, in 1974, and Dreaming My Dreams, in 1975. But it was the 1976 release of "Are You Ready for the Country?" that propelled him to superstar status. The pace of recording and performing was lucrative but grueling.

In 1976, Jennings began his career-defining collaborations with Nelson on the compilation album Wanted: The Outlaws!, country's first platinum record. The following year, RCA issued Ol' Waylon, an album that produced a huge hit country/pop duet single with Nelson, "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)." The album Waylon and Willie followed in 1978, producing their biggest hit single yet, another country/pop crossover smash, "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." Jennings released I've Always Been Crazy, also in 1978, followed by a "greatest hits" album the following year. A son was born to Waylon and Jessi in May 1979. Waylon Albright Jennings, better known as "Shooter," played the role of his father in Walk the Line in 2005.

Addiction and recovery

By the early 1980s, Jennings was completely addicted to cocaine. His personal finances had again unraveled and left him bankrupt, though he insisted on repaying every penny and did additional tours to satisfy the debt. His work became less focused and his tours had progressed into full rock and roll-type excesses. In a widely publicized case, he was arrested in 1977 for cocaine possession by federal agents, though due to almost comedic errors by the DEA, the charges were later dropped. The episode was recounted in Jennings' song "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Outta Hand?"

Jennings decided that it was finally time to clean up, at least for a little while. He leased a home in the Phoenix Arizona area and spent a month detoxing himself, with the intent to start using cocaine again in a more controlled fashion afterward. By Jennings' own admission in interviews, his son, Shooter Jennings, was the main inspiration to stay off of cocaine permanently. In 1984, he went "cold turkey" to end his cocaine addiction for good, which he later memorialized in the song "Working Without A Net", from the album "Will The Wolf Survive" (1985).

His later life was plagued with health problems, including a heart attack, bypass surgery, and diabetes that developed after he beat his cocaine habit. Despite these problems, Jennings remained free from cocaine and continued recording and touring, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and into the new millennium. Jennings performed his final concert in late fall of 2001. According to the sleeve notes on the album, "The Crickets and their Buddies," Jennings' final recording session was his contribution to that album, where he provided the lead vocal for the Buddy Holly classic "Well All Right."

Later years

Outside the music industry, Jennings was also known as the primary voice of the narrator/balladeer on the television series The Dukes of Hazzard and its predecessor, the 1975 film, Moonrunners. The theme song, "Good Ol' Boys", an original Jennings composition, is one of the most well-known television theme songs in American television history. He also made an appearance on Married... with Children and had a role in the 1985 film, Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird, as a truck driver. Jennings sang "Ain't No Road Too Long" in the movie with Big Bird and the other Sesame Street characters. Jennings was also a member of USA for Africa for the recording of "We Are the World" but, temperamental as ever, reportedly left the studio due to a dispute over the song's lyrics. In 1976, after Johnny's Cash's guitar player fell ill while on tour in Canada, Waylon flew up from Nashville, where he had a free week, and filled in. Afterwards, after several solos and duets, Jennings refused to take payment for it.

In the mid-1980s, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Nelson and Jennings formed a successful group called The Highwaymen. Aside from his work with The Highwaymen, highlights from his own career include WWII with Willie Nelson, in 1982, Will the Wolf Survive in 1985, The Eagle in 1990 and Too Dumb for New York City, Too Ugly for L.A. in 1992.

In 1993, in collaboration with Rincom Children's Entertainment, Jennings recorded an album of children's songs, "Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals and Dirt", which included "Shooter's Theme", a tribute to his own son (14 years old at the time), with the theme of "a friend of mine". During the early 1990s, Jennings became good friends with the members of the group Metallica. He had also become very close to Metallica frontman James Hetfield, and influenced some material for their 1996 album Load. In 2003, James Hetfield was featured on the tribute album I've Always Been Crazy: A Tribute to Waylon Jennings, and covered Jennings' "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand"

In 1998, Jennings teamed up with Bobby Bare, Jerry Reed and Mel Tillis to form The Old Dogs. The group recorded a double album of songs penned entirely by Shel Silverstein. In July, 1998, the Old Dogs, Volumes 1 and 2 were released on the Atlantic Records label. A companion video, as well as a Greatest Hits album (composed of previously released material by each individual artist), were also available.

In mid 1999, Jennings assembled what he referred to as his "hand-picked dream team" - and formed Waylon & The Waymore Blues Band. Consisting primarily of former Waylors, the thirteen-member group performed a limited number of concerts at select venues, from 1999 to 2001. The highlight of this period was the January 2000 recording, at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium, of what would become Jennings' final album, Never Say Die: Live. An abbreviated album, composed of 14 tracks, was released in October 2000. A special edition box set, including all twenty-two tracks on two audio CDs, as well as a DVD with the complete concert and bonus features, was released on July 24, 2007 from Legacy Recordings. That concert showed Waylon Jennings still as a fighter and an outlaw. he performed with the same fire that had back in the 1970s even though he wasn't in good health.

In 2000, he provided the voice of Judge Thatcher in the animated adaptation of Tom Sawyer. In an episode of The Angry Beavers entitled The Legend of Kid Friendly that aired in April 1999, Jennings provided the voice for the narrator/singer.

Some time during 2001, Jennings provided his voice in an episode of Family Guy during a Dukes of Hazzard parody (which would end up being his last televised appearance). The episode was entitled "To Love and Die in Dixie". The episode originally aired in November of that year. He also narrated a watch fight in an earlier episode, "Chitty Chitty Death Bang".

In October 2001, Jennings was finally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In one final act of defiance, he did not show up to accept the award and opted instead to send his son Buddy Dean Jennings in his place.

Death

Jennings suffered from worsening diabetes that had ended most of his touring. February 13, 2002, Jennings died in his sleep of diabetic complications in Chandler, Arizona. Jennings is buried in the Mesa City Cemetery, in Mesa, Arizona.

Posthumous honors

In the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, Jennings was portrayed by his son, Shooter, as a tribute to him, though the younger man's shoulder-length hair and beard made him look little like his father appeared at the time (circa 1966) when Cash and Jennings shared an apartment outside Nashville. Shooter also plays his father in a scene set several years previously; for this scene he did cut his hair and shave, heightening the resemblance to Waylon.

On March 22, 2006, Jennings's mother, Lorene Beatrice (née Shipley) Jennings, died in Littlefield, Texas at the age of 84.

On July 6, 2006, Jennings was inducted to Hollywood's Rock Wall in Hollywood, California, along with former bandmate Kris Kristofferson.

In 2006, Jennings received a tribute from John Schneider, Tom Wopat, and Catherine Bach (Bo, Luke, and Daisy Duke). Waylon composed Theme from "The Dukes of Hazzard" (Good Ol' Boys) and was also The Balladeer, or narrator, on the show. Schneider, Wopat, and Bach reworked the theme song, added to it and re-recorded it. They also made a video for the song, which is on the seventh-season Dukes of Hazzard DVD set. The song ends with Daisy (Catherine Bach) saying, "We love you, Waylon," in the music outro. This project was done with the blessing of Waylon's widow, Jessi Colter.

On June 20, 2007, Jennings was posthumously awarded the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music. Son Shooter Jennings accepted the award on his father's behalf.

The Music Inside: A Collaboration Dedicated to Waylon Jennings, a three disc collection is being released showing just how much Waylon has influenced today's artists. It brought together artists like Hank Williams, Jr who was good friends with Waylon and Jamey Johnson who grew up listening to Waylon and Willie and the boys. Volume I has been released but volumes II and III are on hold due to problems with the company which had originally planned to distribute the tribute albums.

Personal life

Jennings was married four times, and had six children. He was first married to Maxine Caroll Lawrence in 1956 at age 18, with whom he had three children, they were later divorced. Jennings married for a second time on December 10, 1962 to Lynne Jones, they adopted a child Tomi Lynne. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1967. He was also married for a third time to Barbara Rood, which ended in divorce. He composed the song "This Time" about the trials and tribulations of his marriages and divorces. He married for the fourth and final time on October 26, 1969 to Jessi Colter, to whom he was married until his death in 2002. With Colter he had one son, Waylon Albright "Shooter" Jennings. Jennings' first three children were Terry, Julie,and Buddy Dean. He also had one step-daughter, Jennifer, from his marriage to Jessi Colter.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waylon_Jennings_discography

http://billiongraves.com/pages/record/person/2830549


The following biography is taken from Wikipedia

Waylon Arnold Jennings, June 15, 1937 – February 13, 2002) was an American country music singer, songwriter, and musician. Jennings began playing guitar at eight and began performing at twelve on KVOW radio. He formed a band, The Texas Longhorns. Jennings worked as a D.J. on KVOW, KDAV, KYTI and KLLL. In 1958, Buddy Holly arranged Jennings' first recording session, of "Jole Blon" and "When Sin Stops (Love Begins)". Holly hired him to play bass. During the "Winter Dance Party Tour," in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly chartered a plane to arrive at the next venue. Jennings gave up his seat in the plane to J. P. Richardson, who was suffering from a cold. The flight that carried Holly, Richardson and Ritchie Valens crashed, on the day later known as The Day the Music Died. Following the accident, Jennings worked as a D.J. in Coolidge, Arizona and Phoenix. He formed a rockabilly club band, The Waylors. He recorded for independent label Trend Records, A&M Records before succeeding with RCA Victor after achieving creative control of his records.


During the 1970s, Jennings joined the Outlaw movement. He released critically acclaimed albums Lonesome, On'ry and Mean and Honky Tonk Heroes, followed by hit albums Dreaming My Dreams and Are You Ready for the Country. In 1976 he released the album Wanted! The Outlaws with Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and Jessi Colter, the first platinum country music album. The success of the album was followed by Ol' Waylon, and the hit song "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)". By the early 1980s, Jennings was struggling with a cocaine addiction, which he quit in 1984. Later he joined the country supergroup The Highwaymen with Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash. During that period, Jennings released the successful album, Will the Wolf Survive. He toured less after 1997, to spend more time with his family. Between 1999 and 2001, his appearances were limited by health problems. On February 13, 2002, Jennings died from complications of diabetes.


Jennings also appeared in movies and television series. He was the narrator for The Dukes of Hazzard; he also composed and sang the show's theme song. In 2001 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which he chose not to attend until later on. In 2007 he was posthumously awarded the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music.

Early life

Waylon Arnold Jennings was born in Littlefield, Texas, the seat of Lamb County, the son of Lorene Beatrice (née Shipley) and William Albert Jennings.[1] His original birth name was Wayland, meaning land by the highway, but it was changed after a Baptist preacher visited Jennings' parents and congratulated his mother for naming him after the Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas. Lorene Jennings, who had been unaware of the college, changed the spelling to Waylon. Jennings later expressed in his autobiography "I didn't like Waylon. It sounded corny and hillbilly, but it's been good to me, and I'm pretty well at peace with it right now."[2] When Jennings was eight, his mother taught him to play guitar with the tune "Thirty Pieces of Silver". Jennings used to practice with the guitars of his relatives, until his mother bought him a used Stella, and later ordered a Harmony Patrician.[3] Jennings never learned to read music, but he practiced to seek a career in music and avoid a possible future picking cotton and other temporary jobs.[4][5]

Beginnings in music

The twelve-year-old Jennings auditioned for a spot on KVOW in Littlefield, Texas. Owner J.B. McShan, along with Emil Macha, recorded Jennings' performance. McShan liked his style, and hired him for a weekly thirty-minute program. Following this successful introduction, Jennings formed his own band. He asked Macha to play bass for him, and gathered other friends and acquaintances to form The Texas Longhorns. The style of the band, a mixture of country & western and bluegrass, was often not well received. At seventeen, Jennings and band recorded a demo of the songs "Stranger in My Home" and "There'll Be a New Day" at KFYO radio in Lubbock, Texas.[6] In addition to performing on air for KVOW, Jennings later worked as a D.J. for the station.[7] Jennings dropped out of high school in tenth grade to pursue music. His early influences were Bob Wills, Floyd Tillman, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Carl Smith and Elvis Presley.[8][9][10][11] He moved to Lubbock, where he initially worked for KLLL, and later for KDAV; Jennings' show was successful in both venues.[7]


While working in KLLL, Jennings met Buddy Holly during the broadcasts of Sunday Party. Holly, who wanted to start in record production, arranged a session for Jennings. On September 10 Jennings recorded the songs, "Jole Blon" and "When Sin Stops (Love Begins)", with Holly and Tommy Allsup on guitars with saxophonist, King Curtis. The single was released on Brunswick in 1959 with limited success. Holly then hired Jennings to play electric bass for him during his "Winter Dance Party Tour".[7]


During his first recording session in 1958, Jennings was accompanied by Buddy Holly on the guitar and King Curtis on the saxophone


After a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly chartered a plane for himself, Allsup, and Jennings to avoid a long bus trip to Fargo, North Dakota. Allsup lost a coin toss to Ritchie Valens for his seat on the plane, while Jennings gave up his seat to J. P. Richardson, who was suffering from a cold and complaining about how uncomfortable a long bus trip was for a man of his size.[12] Holly jokingly told Jennings, "I hope your ol' bus freezes up!". Jennings replied, "Well, I hope your ol' plane crashes!"[13] During the early morning hours of February 3, 1959, later known as The Day the Music Died, the charter crashed outside Clear Lake, killing all on board.[14] Jennings and Allsup continued the tour for two more weeks, featuring Jennings as the lead singer.[7] Jennings later admitted that he felt severe guilt and responsibility for the crash, and that his words would haunt him for the rest of his life.[15]


He later returned to KLLL and performed regionally, but eventually was fired by Sky Corbin. Subsequently, Jennings worked briefly for KDAV.[8] He released recordings under Trend Records, and experienced moderate success with his single, "Another Blue Day".[16]

Phoenix and the Nashville Sound

Jennings lived briefly in Coolidge, Arizona, in 1961, working in radio before moving to Phoenix, where he formed a rockabilly band, The Waylors. Jennings and his band performed at a newly-opened nightspot called JD's in Tempe (it was thought at the time that Jennings was part-owner). The band earned a small, local fan base, and Jennings eventually signed with the independent label Trend Records. The recordings were not successful and Jennings began working as a record producer. He moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1963, where he signed a contract with Herb Alpert of A&M Records.[16][17]


His records had little success, because A&M's main releases were folk music rather than country.[18] He had a few hits on local radio in Phoenix, including Ian Tyson's "Four Strong Winds" and "Just To Satisfy You" (co-written with Don Bowman). He also recorded an album on BAT called JD's. After 500 copies were sold at the club, another 500 copies were pressed by the Sounds label.[19] He also played lead guitar for Patsy Montana on a 1964 album.[20] Alpert tried to shift Jennings' style from country to pop, but Jennings refused. After his only single, "Sing the Girl a Song, Bill", Alpert released Jennings.[17]


Singer Bobby Bare, who covered Jennings' songs "Four Strong Winds" and "Just To Satisfy You", recommended him to producer Chet Atkins, who signed Jennings to RCA Victor in 1965.[18] On August 21, Jennings made his first appearance on the Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart with "That's the Chance I'll Have to Take".[21] The same year he met and became friends with Willie Nelson, who went to see one of his shows in Phoenix, Arizona.[22]

In 1966, Jennings released his debut album for RCA Folk-Country, followed by Leavin' Town, and Nashville Rebel.[23][24] Nashville rebel was the soundtrack to an independent film of the same name, starring Jennings.[25] The single "Green River" charted on Billboard country singles at number eleven.[21] In 1967 Jennings released a hit single, "Just to Satisfy You". During an interview, Jennings remarked that the song was a "pretty good example" of the influence of his work with Buddy Holly and rockabilly music.[26] During the next years, Jennings produced mid-chart albums that sold well, including Just to Satisfy You, that included the same-named hit single of 1967.[23]


In 1972 Jennings released Ladies Love Outlaws. The single that headlined the album became a hit for Jennings, and was his first approach to Outlaw Country.[27] Jennings was accustomed to performing and recording with his own band, The Waylors, a practice that was not encouraged by powerful Nashville producers. Over time, however, Jennings felt limited by the Nashville sound's lack of artistic freedom.[28] The music style publicized as "Countrypolitan" was characterized by orchestral arrangements, and the absence of traditional country music instruments. The producers did not let Jennings play his own guitar or select material to record.[16]

Outlaw Country

In an interview Jennings recalled the restrictions of the Nashville establishment, "They wouldn't let you do anything. You had to dress a certain way: you had to do everything a certain way [...] They kept trying to destroy me.... I just went about my business and did things my way [...] You start messing with my music, I get mean"[29] In 1972, his recording contract was nearing an end. Hepatitis-afflicted Jennings accepted an offer from Neil Reshen to renegotiate his recording and touring contracts. At a meeting in a Nashville airport, Jennings introduced Reshen to Willie Nelson. By the end of the meeting, Reshen had become manager to both singers. Jennings' new deal gained him a $75,000 advance and artistic control.[30][31] Reshen advised Jennings to keep the beard that he had grown in the hospital, in order to match the image of outlaw country.[32][33][34]


L-R: Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings at the Dripping Springs Reunion, in 1972 By 1973, Nelson had returned to music, finding success with Atlantic Records. Now based in Austin, Texas, Nelson had made inroads into the rock and roll press by attracting a diverse fan base that included the rock music audience.[35][36] Atlantic Records was now attempting to sign Jennings, but Nelson's rise to popularity persuaded RCA to renegotiate with Jennings before losing another potential success.[37]


He followed with Lonesome, On'ry and Mean and Honky Tonk Heroes in 1973, the first albums recorded and released under his creative control. The albums were commercial and critical successes. More hit albums followed, with The Ramblin' Man and This Time, in 1974, and Dreaming My Dreams, in 1975.[38][39] In 1976, Jennings released Are You Ready for the Country, Jennings wanted the record to be produced by Los Angeles producer Ken Mansfield. Although RCA denied the request, Jennings and The Waylors went to Los Angeles and recorded with Mansfield at his expense. After a month, Jennings presented the master tape to Chet Atkins who decided to release it. The album hit number one on Billboard's country albums three times the same year, topping the charts for ten weeks. It was named country album of the year in 1976 by Record World Magazine and it was certified gold by the RIAA.[40]

In 1976 Jennings released the album Wanted! The Outlaws, recorded with Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and Jessie Colter for RCA. The album was the first country music album certified platinum.[16] The following year, RCA issued Ol' Waylon, an album that produced a hit duet with Nelson, "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)."[41] The album Waylon and Willie followed in 1978, producing the hit single, "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys".[42] Jennings released I've Always Been Crazy, also in 1978.[43] The same year, at the peak of his success, Jennings began to feel limited by the outlaw movement. The "outlaw image" restricted the repertoire he could record, as well as the material that audiences expected from him.[44] Jennings referred to the over-exploitation of the image in the song "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit Has Done Got Out of Hand?", denouncing that the movement had become a "self-fulfilling prophecy".[44][45] In 1979 he released Greatest Hits,[43] which was certified gold the same year, and in 2002 was certified quintuple platinum.[46]

Later years

In the mid-1980s, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Nelson and Jennings formed a successful group called The Highwaymen.[47] Aside from his work with The Highwaymen, Jennings' released a gold album WWII (1982) with Willie Nelson.[42]


In 1985 Jennings joined with USA for Africa to record "We Are the World", but he left the studio due to a dispute over the song's lyrics that were to be sung in Swahili. Ironically, after Jennings left the session, the idea was dropped at the prompting of Stevie Wonder, who pointed out that Ethiopians did not speak Swahili.[48][49] By this time, his sales had decreased. After the release of Sweet Mother Texas, Jennings signed with Music Corporation of America.[17] The debut release with the label, Will the Wolf Survive (1985), peaked at number one in Billboard's Country albums in 1986.[50] Jennings' initial success tailed off, and in 1990, he signed with Epic Records. His first release, The Eagle, became his final top ten album.[17][51] In 1993, in collaboration with Rincom Children's Entertainment, Jennings recorded an album of children's songs, Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals & Dirt, which included "Shooter's Theme", a tribute to his 14-year-old with the theme of "a friend of mine".[52]


Despite low record sales, Jennings attracted large audiences in live appearances.[17] In 1997, after the Lollapalooza tour, he decreased his tour schedule and became centered on his family.[53]


In 1998, Jennings teamed up with Bare, Jerry Reed and Mel Tillis to form The Old Dogs. The group recorded a double album of songs penned entirely by Shel Silverstein.[54] In mid 1999, Jennings assembled what he referred to as his "hand-picked dream team" – and formed Waylon & The Waymore Blues Band. Consisting primarily of former Waylors, the thirteen-member group performed a limited number of concerts from 1999 to 2001.[55] In January 2000, Jennings recorded what would become his final album at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium, Never Say Die: Live.[56]

Music style and image

Jennings was characterized by his "powerful" singing voice, noted by his "rough-edged quality", as well as his phrasing and texture.[57][58] Accompanying his vocals, he played guitar. He was recognized for his "spanky-twang" playing. To create his sound, he used a mixture of thumb and fingers during the rhythmic parts, while using picks for the lead runs. He combined hammer-on and pull-off riffs, with eventual upper-fret double stops and modulation effects.[59] Jennings played a 1953 Fender Telecaster, which was a used guitar purchased as a gift to him by The Waylors. Jennings' bandmates adorned his guitar with a distinctive leather cover, that featured a black background with a white floral work.[60][61] Jennings did further customizing work on the guitar, by filing down the frets to lower the strings on the neck to obtain the slapping sound.[62][63] His signature image was characterized by his long hair and beard, as well as his black hat and the black leather vest he wore during his appareances.[64][65]

Personal life

Jennings was married four times, and had six children. He was first married to Maxine Caroll Lawrence in 1956 at age 18, with whom he had four children: Terry Vance Jennings (born January 21, 1957), Julie Rae Jennings (born August 12, 1958), Buddy Dean Jennings (born March 21, 1960), and Deana Jennings.[66] Jennings married again on December 10, 1962 to Lynne Jones, adopting a child, Tomi Lynne. They divorced in 1967.[67] He next married Barbara Rood. He composed the song "This Time" about the trials and tribulations of his marriages and divorces.[68] He married for the fourth and final time in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 26, 1969 to Jessi Colter.[69] Colter and Jennings had one son, Waylon Albright "Shooter" Jennings (born May 19, 1979). Colter had one daughter, Jennifer, from her previous marriage.[70] Jennings' grandson, William "Struggle" Harness, became a rap/hip hop artist, based out of Nashville.[71]


In 1997, he stopped touring to be close to his family. To set an example about the importance of education to his son Waylon Albright, Jennings earned a GED.[72][73]

Addiction and recovery

Jennings started to consume amphetamines at the time he lived with Johnny Cash during the mid-1960s. Jennings later stated, "Pills were the artificial energy on which Nashville ran around the clock".[8] In 1977, Jennings was arrested by federal agents for conspiracy and "possession of cocaine with intent to distribute". A private courier warned the Drug Enforcement Administration about the package sent to Jennings by a New York colleague that contained twenty-seven grams of cocaine. The DEA and the police went to Jennings' recording studio. They found no evidence, because while they were waiting for a search warrant, Jennings flushed the cocaine. The charges were later dropped and Jennings was released.[74] The episode was recounted in Jennings' song "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Outta Hand?"[75]


During the early 1980s, his cocaine addiction intensified. Jennings claimed to have spent US$1500 daily to satisfy his addiction, draining his personal finances and leaving him bankrupt with debt of up to US$2.5 million.[76][77] Though he insisted on repaying the debt and did additional tours to earn the funds, his work became less focused and his tours deteriorated.[75] Jennings decided to quit his addictions, leased a home in the Phoenix, Arizona area and spent a month detoxing himself, intending to start using cocaine again in a more controlled fashion afterward. In 1984 he quit cocaine. By Jennings' own admission in interviews, his son, Shooter Jennings, was the main inspiration to quit permanently.[76]

Illness and death

Jennings' health had been deteriorating for years prior to his death. Jennings quit cocaine in 1984, and his habit of smoking six packs of cigarettes daily in 1988.[78] In 1988 he underwent heart bypass surgery.[79] By 2000 his diabetes worsened, and the pain reduced his mobility, forcing Jennings to end most touring.[72] Later the same year he underwent surgery to improve his leg circulation.[8] In December 2001 his left foot was amputated at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. On February 13, 2002, Jennings died in his sleep of diabetic complications in Chandler, Arizona. Jennings was buried in the Mesa City Cemetery, in Mesa, Arizona. At the funeral ceremony, on February 15, Colter sang "Storms Never Last" for the attendees, who included Jennings' close friends and fellow musicians.[72]

Legacy

Between 1966 and 1995, 54 Jennings' albums charted, with 11 reaching number one. Meanwhile between 1965 and 1991, 96 singles charted, with 16 number ones.[80] In October 2001, Jennings was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In one final act of defiance, he did not attend the ceremony and opted instead to send son Buddy Dean Jennings.[72]


On July 6, 2006, Jennings was inducted to Hollywood's Rock Wall in Hollywood, California.[81] On June 20, 2007, Jennings was posthumously awarded the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music.[82] Jennings' music had a major influence on several neo-traditionalist and alternative country artists,[17] including Hank Williams Jr.,[83] The Marshall Tucker Band,[84] Travis Tritt, Steve Earle, John Anderson,[85] his son, Shooter Jennings and Hank Williams III.[86]


In 2008, the first posthumous album by Jennings, Waylon Forever was released. The album consisted of songs recorded with his son Shooter when he was sixteen. In 2012, Waylon: The Music Inside a three volume project, consisting in covers of Jennings' songs by different artists was released. The same year, it was announced for September the release of Goin' Down Rockin': The Last Recordings, a set of twelve songs recorded by Jennings and bassist Robby Turner before his death in 2002. Jennings' family was reluctant to release any new material because they did not feel comfortable at the time. The songs only featured Jennings and Turner on the bass, while further accompaniment would be added later. Ten years after, Tuner completed the recordings with the help of former Waylors. The Jennings family approved the release in spite of the launch of a new business focused on his state. Shooter Jennings arranged deals for a clothing line, while also launched a renewed website, and started talks with different producers about the making of a biopic.[87]

view all 11

Waylon Arnold Jennings's Timeline

1937
June 15, 1937
Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas, United States
1958
August 12, 1958
Age 21
Levelland, Hockley County, Texas, United States
2002
February 13, 2002
Age 64
Chandler, Maricopa County, Arizona, United States
February 15, 2002
Age 64
Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona, United States