Waylon Jennings (1937-2002) country singer
Country star Waylon Jennings received most of his fame through the tv series The Dukes of Hazzard. He wrote the theme song and he plays the role of the invisible balladeer in the series. But in country music, he is a big star for his entire oeuvre.
Wayland Arnold Jennings was born June 15, 1937 in Littlefield, Texas and listened to Hank Williams and B.B. King in his youth. He formed his own band at the age of 12 and met Buddy Holly six years later, whose support would have a great impact on the early years of his career. By 1968, Jennings had hit the top five with Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line and Walk On Out Of My Mind, and a year later he won a Grammy Award for a version of MacArthur Park. But Jennings was not happy with the Nashville way of treating artists, as wasn't Johnny Cash for instance.
Jennings had its first huge success after deciding to produce for himself. Albums like 1973's Lonesome, On'ry and Mean and 1974's This Time (co-production with Willie Nelson) caught the attention of critics and audience outside of country circles. He won the Country Music Association's Male Vocalist Award of 1975. One year later he kept on hitting the top of Billboard's with This Time, Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way, Luckenbach, Texas, Wurlitzer Prize, I've Always Been Crazy, Amanda, Ain't Living Long Like This and Just to Satisfy You. In the years thereafter he would work together with Neil Diamond, Mark Knopfler, Metallica, Soundgarden, Sting and Sheryl Crow. From 1985 to the early 1990's he had some success with The Highwaymen, a group consisting of Waylon, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson.
Being a school dropout himself, he issued a children's album, Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals & Dirt, and spoke to schoolchildren about the importance of staying in school. Waylon himself has a son called Buddy, named after Holly of course. He married Jessi on October 26, 1969.
Despite Waylon's heavy involvement with The Dukes of Hazzard, he never appeared on camera until episode 130, Welcome, Waylon Jennings. The theme song, Theme From 'The Dukes Of Hazzard' (Good Ol' Boys) was released on Waylon's Music Man album in 1980. The single became Waylon's biggest selling to date and his only gold single. He also played guest roles in tv series Married With Children and Sesame Street.
Jennings was still heavily active in music until his last days. His last album was titled Closing in on the Fire. He died on February 13, 2002 in Phoenix at the age of 64. Jennings had been ill for some time and underwent surgery to amputate his left foot, after infectuous complications due to diabetes.