Waylon Jennings was born on June 15, 1937, in Littlefield, Texas. By age 12 he was playing in a group and working as a radio DJ. From the time of his departure, Jennings had become a country music star.
A musical rebel, Waylon Jennings was born on June 15, 1937, in Littlefield, Texas, and is best remembered for helping popularize a grittier and much more rock-influenced style of music called outlaw country music. He and a few of his fellow artists were labeled “outlaws” for challenging the country music institution as well as for their hard-partying ways.
Jennings learned to play guitar as a youngster. From the age of 12, he was playing in a group and working as a radio disc jockey. Jennings dropped out of school and moved to Lubbock in 1954. There he found work in a nearby radio station, KLLL, where he met and befriended early rock and roll star Buddy Holly. In 1958, Holly made Jennings’ first single, “Jole Blon,” and Jennings played in Holly’s backup band, The Crickets, to get a period. He was performing together with the group on February 3, 1959, and he was likely to get on a personal airplane with Holly after their show in the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Jennings, nevertheless, gave up his place on the airplane to rock star J.P. Richardson—better known as “The Big Bopper”—who was not feeling well. Soon after takeoff, the airplane crashed, killing Holly, Richardson, singer Ritchie Valens, as well as the aviator.
Heartbroken after the disaster, Jennings returned to Lubbock to get a time and worked as a radio disc jockey. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1960 and restarted his musical career, forming a group called the Waylors.
While the group never actually took off commercially, Jennings got a contract with A&M Records in 1963 and moved to Los Angeles, California. He got right into a battle together with the record label on the course of his music. They needed him to take on more of a pop sound. Not one to be pushed around, Jennings stayed devoted to his country style. He made just one record for A&M.
In 1965, Jennings moved to Nashville. He became roommates with country music’s man in black, Johnny Cash, which indicated the beginning of a lifelong friendship. That year Jennings had his first country hit, “Stop the World (And Let Me Away).”
Around now, Jennings’ musical style continued to evolve, taking on a tougher, more bass-driven sound. He worked on tunes with such songwriters and musicians as Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. In 1973, Jennings released Honky Tonk Heroes, which can be generally seen as among the early records showing his new so called outlaw sound. This new style was a distinct pause in the glossy creations of the more conventional country music and started to develop its own subsequent. Reaching the very top of the country charts in 1974, “This Time” was the primary number one hit for Jennings and was immediately followed by another chart topper “I am a Ramblin’ Man.”
Jennings’ involvement in the compilation Needed! A number one hit on the pop album charts, the record featured tunes by Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser, and Jessi Colter, Jennings’ fourth wife.
Joining forces with Nelson, he recorded Waylon & Willie (1978), which went to sell several million copies. He and Nelson shared the honours for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
Long known for his partying ways, Jennings’ drug use escalated into a costly cocaine and amphetamine addiction, which sometimes cost him as much as $1,500 a day. He made a decision to stop in 1984. They reach the very top of the country charts with “Highwayman,” which was contained on their successful record of exactly the same name. The 1990 follow up record, Highwayman 2, failed to do too.
While he had a rough time getting his music played on country music stations, Jennings stayed a favorite performer, touring widely until 1997. He even played several dates on 1996 Lollapalooza tour, better known for showcasing alternative rock acts. Around now, Jennings candidly discussed his many pros and cons in Waylon: An Autobiography, written with Lenny Kaye.
But that failed to prevent him from making music. In 2000, Jennings recorded several performances at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium for the record Never Say Die Live. He was inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. After that year, Jennings had to have a foot amputated because of diabetes-associated poor health.
Jennings expired on February 13, 2002, at his house in Chandler, Arizona. Jennings had five other children from his three previous unions.
Buddies as well as supporters alike mourned the passing of the country music star. “Waylon Jennings was an American archetype, the bad guy with all the huge heart,” Kristofferson told the La Times. Despite his tough closing years, “he was full of imagination and happiness,” his son Shooter described to People magazine.
Shooter Jennings has followed his dad’s footsteps, playing in several groups. Along with his backup band, the .357s, he put together an album of his dad’s music comprising tracks recorded years before Waylon’s departure. The record, Waylon Forever, premiered in October 2008.