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Waylon Jennings

If any one performer personified the outlaw country movement of the '70s, it was Waylon Jennings. Though he had been a professional musician since the late '50s, it wasn't until the '70s that Waylon, with his imposing baritone and stripped-down, updated honky tonk, became a superstar. Jennings rejected the conventions of Nashville, refusing to record with the industry's legions of studio musicians and insisting that his music never resemble the string-laden, pop-inflected sounds that were coming out of Nashville in the '60s and '70s. Many artists, including Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, followed Waylon's anti-Nashville stance and eventually the whole "outlaw" movement -- so-named because of the artists' ragged, maverick image and their independence from Nashville -- became one of the most significant country forces of the '70s, helping the genre adhere to its hardcore honky tonk roots. Jennings didn't write many songs, but his music -- which combined the grittiest aspects of honky tonk with a rock & roll rhythm and attitude, making the music spare, direct, and edgy -- defined hardcore country, and it influenced countless musicians, including members of the new traditionalist and alternative country subgenres of the '80s.

Jennings was born and raised in Littlefield, TX, where he learned how to play guitar by the time he was eight. When he was 12 years old, he was a DJ for a local radio station and, shortly afterward, formed his first band. Two years later he left school and spent the next few years picking cotton, eventually moving to Lubbock, TX, in 1954. Once he was in Lubbock, he got a job at the radio station KLLL, where he befriended Buddy Holly during one of the station's shows. Holly became Waylon's mentor, teaching him guitar licks, collaborating on songs, and producing Jennings' first single, "Jole Blon," which was released on Brunswick in 1958. Later that year, Waylon became the temporary bass player for Holly's band the Crickets, playing with the rock & roller on his final tour. Jennings was also scheduled to fly on the plane ride that ended in Holly's tragic death in early 1959, but he gave up his seat at the last minute to the Big Bopper, who was suffering from a cold.

Following Holly's death, Jennings returned to Lubbock, where he spent two years mourning the loss of his friend and working as a DJ. In late 1960, he moved to Phoenix, AZ, where he founded a rockabilly band called the Waylors. Jennings and the Waylors began to earn a local following through their performances at the local club JD's, eventually signing to the independent label Trend in 1961. None of the group's singles made any impact, and Jennings began working for Audio Recorders as a record producer. In 1963, Waylon moved to Los Angeles, where he landed a contract with Herb Alpert's A&M Records. By this point, Waylon's music was pure country, and Alpert wanted to move him toward the pop market; Jennings didn't cave in to the demands and his sole single, "Sing the Girl a Song, Bill," and album for A&M flopped.

Following the A&M debacle, Jennings landed a contract with RCA with help from Chet Atkins and Bobby Bare, and he moved to Nashville in 1965. After arriving in Nashville, he moved in with Johnny Cash, and the two musicians began a long-lasting friendship (which eventually resulted in a collaboration in the form of the Highwaymen in the '80s). Waylon released his first single for RCA, "That's the Chance I'll Have to Take," late in the summer of 1965, and it became a minor hit. With his second single, "Stop the World (And Let Me Off)," he had his first Top 40 country hit, and it began a string of moderate hits that eventually developed into several Top Ten singles -- "Walk on Out of My Mind," "I Got You," "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line," "Yours Love" -- in 1968. At this point, he was working with Nashville session men and developing a sound that was halfway between honky tonk and folk. As the next decade began, he started to move his music toward hardcore country.

In 1970, Jennings recorded several songs by a struggling but promising songwriter called Kris Kristofferson, which led to a pair of ambitious albums -- Singer of Sad Songs and Ladies Love Outlaws -- the following year. On these two records, he developed the roots of outlaw country, creating a harder, tougher muscular sound with a selection of songs by writers like Alex Harvey and Hoyt Axton. During the following year, Waylon began collaborating with Willie Nelson, recording and writing several songs with the songwriter.

By 1972, he had renegotiated his contract with RCA, demanding that he assume the production and artistic control of his records. Honky Tonk Heroes, released in 1973, was the first album released under this new contract. Comprised almost entirely of songs by the then-unknown songwriter Billy Joe Shaver and recorded with Jennings' road band, the album was an edgy, bass-driven, and surly variation on stripped-down honky tonk. Jennings and his new sound slowly began to gain more fans, and in 1974 he had his first number one, "This Time," followed by yet another number one single, "I'm a Ramblin' Man," and the number two "Rainy Day Woman." Waylon's success continued throughout 1975, as Dreaming My Dreams -- featuring one of his signature songs, the number one "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" -- reached number 49 on the pop charts; he was also voted the Country Music Association's Male Vocalist of the Year.

Jennings truly crossed over into the mainstream in 1976, when Wanted! The Outlaws -- a various-artists compilation of previously released material that concentrated on Waylon but also featured songs from his wife Jessi Colter, Willie Nelson, and Tompall Glaser -- peaked at number one on the pop charts. Following the success of Wanted!, Waylon became a superstar, as well known to the mainstream pop audience as he was to the country audience. For the next six years, Jennings' albums consistently charted in the pop Top 50 and went gold. During this time, he recorded a number of duets with Nelson, including the multi-platinum Waylon & Willie (1978), which featured the number one single "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." Over the course of the late '70s and early '80s, Jennings scored ten number one hits, including "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" (which hit number 25 on the pop charts and spent six weeks at the top of the country charts), "The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want to Get Over You)," "I've Always Been Crazy," "Amanda," "Theme from 'The Dukes of Hazzard' (Good Ol' Boys)," and three duets with Nelson.

By the mid-'80s, the momentum of Waylon's career began to slow somewhat, due to his drug abuse and the decline of the entire outlaw country movement. Jennings kicked his substance habits cold turkey in the mid-'80s and formed the supergroup the Highwaymen with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash in 1985; over the next decade, the band released three albums, yet none of them were more successful than their debut, which spawned the number one single, "Highwayman." Also in 1985, Jennings parted ways with RCA, signing with MCA Records the following year. At first, he had several hit singles for the label, including the number one "Rose in Paradise," but by the end of the '80s, he was no longer able to crack the Top 40. In 1990, Waylon switched labels again, signing with Epic. "Wrong," his first single for the label, reached the Top Ten in 1990, and "The Eagle" reached the Top 40 the following year, but after that minor hit, none of his singles were charting.

Despite his decreased sales -- which were largely due to the shifting tastes in country music -- Waylon remained a superstar throughout the '90s and was able to draw large crowds whenever he performed a concert, while many of his records continued to receive positive reviews. In 1996, he signed to Justice Records, where he released the acclaimed Right for the Time. Closing In on the Fire followed in 1998. His work was slowed by his health in the years following that album, as complications from diabetes made it difficult for him to walk. His foot was amputated in December 2001 because of his illness, and he died on February 13, 2002, at his home in Arizona. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Nashville Rebel

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Track List: The Journey: Six Strings Away

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Disc 6
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Track List: The Journey: Destiny's Child

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Disc 3
Disc 4
Disc 5
Disc 6

Comments

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LOVE YOU!! OUT IN LUCKENBACH WITH WAYLON AND WILLIE AND THE BOYS. AIN'T NO ONE FEELING THE PAIN.
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LETS GO TO LUCKENBACH TEXAS!!!
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Playlist Dearl s
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Grew up listening to Waylon Jennings every time I hear any of his song I think of my great prandpa
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But for a little luck he would have died in 1959 RIP Buddy Holly/
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RIP Waylon, King of Country
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Waylon Jennings is One Of The Great
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twiliter4
Ol' Waylon, best baritone ever.
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I hope sting beat Undertaker next year at WrestleMania
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this song so really good I love this song so much
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Waylon was always and continues to be one of my favorites!!! !
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wyattiearv42
One of my favorite singers and the the perfect balladeer for the Dukes of Hazzard
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May God bless Waylon Jennings. Amen
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Born in 1982...but thanks to my Daddy, I've always loved this man! The Highwaymen wouldn't have worked without him, just pure Badassery.
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The greatest of the great, not only do I love his music I knew the man drink beer with him back years a go
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A vagabond dreamer, rhymer, and singer of songs! THE BEST THERE EVERY WAS OR WILL BE ������
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claytonmilli k e n
Waylon made it cool to be a country boy. My true hero.
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Met him years ago,,,outsta n d i n g , great guy!
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couldn't agree more Richard Dixon II - spot on.
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There will never be anyone as great as waylon
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angeltowns5
Grand theft auto 5
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Cousin Richard!
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Met him in mesa Arizona at JD S NIGHT CIUB.BIG DAY FOR ME.
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I'm a american of african decent and I like this s**t!!! Its like white boy country style hard core different kinda rap... I say that because I feel what they saying, everything rhymes and the rhythm of the beat makes you move !!!
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Followed WAYLON since his Buddy Holly days. Best day of my life was when I met him in Wheeling, WV. We talked like we were old friends. UNBELIEVABLE man. There will never be anyone like him. Have all of his albums and never tire of listening to them. Some of his best work is lost on cuts on albums that were never given air time. Sheer poetry
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My family is from Visalia as well
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Born in 54. Grew up with willie waylon and the boys, what a great time!! Still is the music I listen to.
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Fun Fact: Jennings was the bass player For Buddy holly since 1956 or '57.









Dont ask me who is Jennings he is Waylon
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No say any thing bad about waylon jenings he is country he died my dads jr year in school he heard it on the radio and when he heard that he said it's going to be a bad day
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I was a boy when my grand father tuck me to leto field tx and I drove my fist tractor
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Waylon Goddamn Jennings what else can you say. The man was not only a hell of a singer, songwriter and damn good guitar picker but left a footprint in country music like no other. He wanted to do his music his way and did. Told Nashville to kiss his a** and created a genre in country music as we all know Outlaw. Yes Waylon was a f**king genius and influenced many musicians including myself. Hell I named my oldest son after him...God bless you Mr. Waylon Jennings for all you have done for putting
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how do i pick a song
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alabastervil l i s 0
i like his son as well
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There never be another WAYLON my very favorite singer.
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This one is for my son
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alabastervil l i s 0
i wish there were more good man like waylon instead of the fake metro plastic country crap we get now a days.
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My favorite entertainer of all time!
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One of the best outlaws ever
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hilburn.marg a r e t t
He is still love by all his fans and will never die. Country music as we know it is no longer. Just a few of the Greats are Left.RIP Waylon you
brought us so much joy.
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Waylon is country
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Losing a great era and music legends
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Got a minute ? There's a church that was built and they need monetary donations to help cover expenses , the church is Saint Patrick church - 1046 E. 34 th street Los Angeles California 90011 - (323) 232- 8756 ( 323) 234- 5963 - Pastor Rev. Timothy Dyer - Jesus is God :)
Report as inappropriate
let's go to Luckenbach, Texas with Waylon, Willie, and the boys
this successful life we're living has got us feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys
between Hank Williams pain songs, Newbury train songs, and blue eyes Crying in the rain
yeah out in Luckenbach, Texas ain't nobody feeling no pain
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Let's go to luckenback texas, with Waylon and willie and the boys.
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Good Hearted Woman Great Country Song By Waylon Jennings & Willie
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He is awsome!
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Sing it Waylon Jennings . Take time to slow down and sme the roases
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Saw him in person, great guy!
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Mr. Movement
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I'd rather be what I am than anything else........ . . . . . I'm a cowboy
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