Country Legend Waylon Jennings Dies At 64
Waylon Jennings, who defined the outlaw movement in country music, died today (Feb. 13) after a long battle with diabetes-related health problems. He was 64. A Jennings spokeswoman said he died peacefWaylon Jennings, who defined the outlaw movement in country music, died today (Feb. 13) after a long battle with diabetes-related health problems. He was 64. A Jennings spokeswoman said he died peacefully at his home in Arizona. Jennings, a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, recorded 60 albums and had 16 No. 1 country singles in a career that spanned five decades. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October.
He had been plagued with diabetes-related health problems in recent years that made it difficult for him to walk. In December, his left foot was amputated at a Phoenix hospital. Jennings and his wife, singer Jessi Colter, sold their home in Nashville more than a year ago and moved to Chandler, Ariz.
With pal Willie Nelson, Jennings performed duets like "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up To Be Cowboys," "Luckenbach," and "Good Hearted Woman." Those 1970s songs nurtured a progressive sound and restless spirit embraced later by Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels, Steve Earle, and others. His resonant, authoritative voice also was used to narrate the popular TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard." He sang its theme song, which was a million seller.
In 1959, Jennings' career was nearly cut short by tragedy. He was scheduled to fly on the light plane that crashed and killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper. Jennings gave up his seat on the plane to the Big Bopper, who was ill and wanted to fly rather than travel by bus with those left behind.
He and Holly were teen-age friends in Lubbock, Texas, and Jennings was in Holly's band. "Mainly what I learned from Buddy was an attitude," Jennings said. "He loved music, and he taught me that it shouldn't have any barriers to it."
As previously reported, Hip-O Records is planning a March 5 release of "Phase One: The Early Years 1958-1964," a collection of twenty of Jennings' earliest recordings, which have yet to surface on CD.
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