Waylon Arnold Jennings (June 15, 1937 – February 13, 2002) was an American country music singer, songwriter, and musician.
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.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
- Between 1966 and 1995, 54 Jennings’ albums charted, with 11 reaching number one.
- Meanwhile between 1965 and 1991, 96 singles charted, with 16 number ones.
- In October 2001, Jennings was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In one final act of defiance, he did not attend the ceremony and opted instead to send son Buddy Dean Jennings.
- On July 6, 2006, Jennings was inducted to Hollywood’s Rock Wall in Hollywood, California.
- On June 20, 2007, Jennings was posthumously awarded the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music.
Luckenback, Texas (written by Bobby Emmons, Chips Moman):
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