Waylon Jennings

  • Born: June 15, 1937
  • Died: February 13, 2002
  • Location: Nashville, Tennessee


Waylon Jennings in 1987

Country great dies at 64

Despite the black cowboy hat and bad-guy image, country star Waylon Jennings was known as a stand-up guy. But when it came to his songs, it was a different story.

"You start messin' with my music, and I get mean,'' he told The Associated Press in 1992. "As long as you are honest and upfront with me, I will be the same with you. But I still do things my way.''

Jennings died peacefully Wednesday at his Arizona home after a long battle with diabetes-related health problems, said spokeswoman Schatzi Hageman. He was 64.

"Waylon Jennings was an American archetype, the bad guy with a big heart,'' said Kris Kristofferson, who sang with Jennings in the Highwaymen along with Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.

Jennings' list of hits spans four decades and includes country music standards like "Good-Hearted Woman'' and "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,'' both duets with Nelson.

He made 60 albums and had 16 country singles that reached No. 1. His "Greatest Hits'' album in 1979 sold 4 million -- a rare accomplishment in country music for that era.

Jennings won two Grammy awards and four Country Music Association awards. Other hits include "I'm a Ramblin' Man,'' "Amanda,'' "Lucille,'' "I've Always Been Crazy'' and "Rose in Paradise.''

Singer George Jones called it a "great loss for country music.''

Jennings' deep, sonorous voice was unmistakable. He narrated the popular TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard'' and sang its theme song, which was a million seller.

Jennings "had a voice and a way with a song like no one else,'' said country star Emmylou Harris, adding "He was also a class act as an artist and a man.''

Jennings had been plagued with health problems in recent years that made it difficult for him to walk. In December, his left foot was amputated.

He traditionally wore a black cowboy hat and ebony attire that accented his black beard and mustache. Often reclusive when not on stage, he played earthy music with a spirited, hard edge.

Some of Jennings' album titles nourished his brash persona: "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean,'' "I've Always Been Crazy,'' "Nashville Rebel,'' "Ladies Love Outlaws'' and "Wanted: The Outlaws.''

He often refused to attend music awards shows on the grounds that performers shouldn't compete against each other. He didn't show up at his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame last year.

"Whenever country music got a little too impressed with itself, Waylon was there to let them know what the music's roots were. He was very uncompromising about that,'' said Lenny Kaye, a guitarist with the Patti Smith Group who helped Jennings write his 1996 autobiography.

In 1992, Jennings told the AP: "I've never compromised, and people respect that.''

He made occasional forays into TV movies, including "Stagecoach'' and "Oklahoma City Dolls,'' plus the Sesame Street movie "Follow That Bird'' and the B-movie "Nashville Rebel.''

Born in Littlefield, Texas, Jennings became a radio disc jockey at 14 and formed his own band not long afterward. His hit records began in the mid-1960s and his heyday was the mid-1970s.

In 1959, Jennings' career was nearly cut short by tragedy soon after it began.

He was scheduled to fly on the light plane that crashed and killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper'' Richardson. Jennings gave up his seat on the plane to Richardson, who was ill and wanted to fly rather than travel by bus with those left behind.

When a plane crash killed seven members of singer Reba McEntire's band in 1991, Jennings was one of the first to call her.

"I told her there's one thing you're going to have to deal with. And that's thinking it was your fault,'' he told the AP in 1992. "As a young man at that time, I thought it was my fault. I felt guilty and I couldn't get it out of my mind for years.''

For musician Rodney Crowell, that was typical Jennings.

"For all of Waylon's tough stuff, he had such a tender heart. He was such a sweet soul,'' Crowell said.


On the Net:

Fan reaction: http://www.waylon.com

Condolence & Memory Journal

Hard to believe it's been 17 years. I sure miss you, Hoss. Play your music and share it with people all the time. Most importantly, I stress to people to really listen and hear what you so unselfishly shared with us all, and for that, the ones I have enlightened about you are grateful, as I will forever be. You are loved and missed more than you know. Thanks again for sharing your wonderful talents and gifts, Hoss. ❤

Posted by Chris Snyder - Salem, OR - Grandparent   February 13, 2019

waylon was alot like me goodhearted , but stuck on his own ways . your a hell of a good singer waylon, wish i could have meet you.

Posted by Leon Roe - monroe, IN - friend   November 29, 2018

I love your music..you were truly one of a kind.you are an inspiration to many..you were true to your family,music,and your fans. You will always be remembered with love..Peace

Posted by Martha Lamplugh - Kingsport, TN - Friend   November 26, 2018

RIP sweet Waylon

Posted by Althea Henry - Middle Village, NY - Fan   February 25, 2015

Dear Lynn and Ed:So sorry to hear about Uncle Charlie. Because of the stories Jimmy and Margie told me, and the time he came to visit us, felt I knew and loved him. Think of you and Jersey often, Love, LaVerne Murphy

Posted by Elvinette - WOIbXk4N8, LA - QuaOUIqMHa1   February 21, 2015

The first time I met Charlie and Barb was at their home in New Jersey. They allowed Mom, Pop and myslef to stay with them a few days before I had to report to West Point as a plebe in July 1973. I barely knew them, yet they were also the first family m

Posted by Felipe - 97mIiKBF, IL - TrBsFodvjNcW   February 21, 2015

So sad to hear of Charlie's passing. He was such a sweet and getnle man. A huge part of the daily life at the South Knoxville Community Center. He was loved by everyone and brought smiles to all he came in contact with. He will be truly missed, such a hug

Posted by Rajat - 3xEDPUK6, NV - BSvzNYwvG   February 20, 2015

RIP Sweet Waylon.

Posted by Althea Henry - Middle Village, NY - No. 1 Fan   February 13, 2015

Love u forever Waylon!

Posted by Althea - Middle Village, NY - Forever fan   June 15, 2014


Posted by donna mcpherson - tazewell, TN - fan   June 14, 2014

Thank you for all your "Precious Memories"

Posted by Althea henry - Middle Village, NY - Fan   April 27, 2014

Waylon Forever

Posted by Althea Henry - Middle village, NY - Fan   April 27, 2014

We will always love you, Waylon.

Posted by Althea Henry - Middle Village, NY - Fan forever   April 27, 2014

waylon was the best i really miss his music,

Posted by Diana - WY   April 24, 2014


It's been just over twelve years now, and I miss this guy something awful. I was so fortunate to see him perform live as many times as I did. A true gentleman, 100% class act, and a great person. Still listen to him nearly every day.

Posted by Chris Snyder - Salem, OR   March 03, 2014


Waylon will always be alive in our hearts! We love and miss you, Waylon!

Posted by Christy A. Smith - Columbus, OH - Friend   February 03, 2014

I will love you always. Your music will live on.

Posted by Althea Henry - Middle Village, NY - Love his Music   January 13, 2014

Waylon is so missed but I still listen to his music everyday loved him. So sorry for your loss .

Posted by mary - st.Augustine, FL - fan   November 08, 2013

Missing ol' Waylon...

Posted by Constance Cline-Hardenh - Springfield, IL - Fan   October 15, 2013

we lost a great man, seen live twice and was the best

Posted by wayne prodgers - lloydminster. alberta - #1 fan   September 29, 2013


Thanks for all the wonderful songs I listen to every day! Rest in peace.

Posted by Gabrielle - Germany - Fan   May 29, 2013

your fans will always miss you waylon so we thank you for all your great music you will be love a fan ginia miller 2 16 2013

Posted by virginia miller - godley, TX - just a fan   February 17, 2013

Your music will forever keep you alive in our hearts..Thanks for the gifts

Posted by Lina - Park Ridge, NJ - Fan   February 13, 2013

Please accept the condolences to your family at this time of brief. May the God of comfort give you peace and strength to endure the days ahead.

Posted by Mrs. - MD - Henderson   February 13, 2013

God has a special place for Waylon, probably a first rate music studio,
making music for all the Saints... I was a great fan of Waylon's. I am a
country singer and writer, love all your D and C chords. You always put
them together so beautiful... A faithful Fan. Don Bachelder

Posted by DON BACHELDER - MESA, AZ - NO RELATION   January 17, 2013

Very good guy loved his singing and his songs.Faithful fan of willie and waylon.Landon

Posted by landon - keosauqua, IA - Fan   November 19, 2012


Hi Waylon! I miss you so much and your singing. You were and still is the best country singer and outlaw there ever was. I play your music all the time since I was young and I`m 62 yrs old. If there was fantisies , he would have been mine, with his voice, laugh, his guitar playing,his joking with the audience and of course his great body and Hair.I`ll miss him always (his singing) and hope to meet him someday on Paridise earth. Love Marilyn VanAlstine Espanola Ontario Canada

Posted by Marilyn Delisle - Espanola, Ontario Canada - Fan from Canada   October 26, 2012


Miss you

Posted by tim bain - fan   September 09, 2012


The world lost the best ever!!!!!!
I'm 72 years young and I know what I'm talking about.
Also love you to Jessie. You lost a great man.

Posted by Larry - A "VERY" long time fan .   April 01, 2012



Posted by Shelly Koonce - Louisiana Fan   February 17, 2012


There will never be another Waylon Jennings you were the best. Thank you for all the meaningful music you gave us.

Posted by gkirua - Listener   February 17, 2012

I love this man dearly,everything about him he was very talented.His music is so real he sang from the heart.I grew up as a child listening to him my mom always played his music. I listen to it still and will always and always sounds so good.Im so happy that i got to see him on his last tour.Im getting a tattoo of him cant wait.I love you Waylon i will meet u in the spirit world when my time comes.Us Native Americans love u sooooo much...Marissa and the rest of the skins....

Posted by Marissa Marin - Mount Pleasant, MI - Fan   February 08, 2012

I loved your music. And still do. My brother and I went all over Phoenix thirty something years ago looking for your song Time to bum again. Found it on vinyl and I still have that album that included that song. It is in mint condition. Rest in peace man keep on playing them great songs

Posted by Robert Roy - Parker, AZ - Fan   January 27, 2012

Waylon, I miss you dearly. You will live on in my heart and I hope to be with you again one day. My daughter's eyes are the exact same color of yours. Love you..Sherry

Posted by sherry nolen johnson - fairview, TN - close friend   December 08, 2011

I was rasied on your music, I named my son , waylon daniels, you will b forever in my herat♥

Posted by Robin Wilkins - richmond, VA - #1 fan   February 14, 2011

I loved Waylons Music...His Music ,Cash, Nelson ,Chris...were a integral part of my life..I lived, ate and breathed it, and sang his music growng up and still do... It will go to the grave with me...Have a pleasant life after..see ya in heaven my friend...

Posted by lenne bowser - Kittanning, PA   June 24, 2007

Default Album

Waylon Jennings at Nashville interview, 1999
Waylon Jennings and wife Jesse Colter at Nashville party, 1982
Waylon Jennings performs in Nashville, 1984
1994 Waylon Jennings performance in Nashville
Waylon Jennings in 1987
Waylon Jennings in 1992