Waylon Jennings – 28 Impressive Facts You Didn’t Know
You can’t think about country music outlaws without thinking about Waylon Jennings, Also, when you think about The Outlaws you can’t not think about some of the crazy stories associated with them. Many of which sound too unbelievable to be true. Well keep reading because here are 28 impressive facts about Waylon Jennings that you might just not know.
“There’s always one more way to do things and that’s your way, and you have a right to try it at least once” Waylon Jennings
His Song “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand”? Was Based On True Life
He wrote that song after a night that involved Drug Enforcement Officers , and cocaine being flushed down the toilet. And a subsequent arrest on federal drug charges. This all took place in 1977 but he wasn’t charged as the police could find no evidence (They never checked the toilet pipe). They also had an incorrect warrant for his arrest.
George Jones Broke Waylon’s Thumb In A Drunken Brawl
George Jones and Waylon Jennings were good friends so when George turned up at Waylon’s place and started drinking heavily it was seen as normal. But as the evening wore on, George became more and more abusive until he and Waylon ended up rolling around the floor in a drunken brawl which culminated in a broken thumb for Waylon Jennings.
He Refused To Sing A Duet With A Tape Recorded Elvis Presley After Elvis Had Died
Even though Waylon respected Elvis and his work, he refused to record a duet with a recording of Elvis made before he had died. When asked about this later he said,
“After he died, RCA wanted to put out a duet album with artists who had worked with Elvis, and asked me to sing along on his finished track. I couldn’t handle that. ‘Call Elvis’, I told them. ‘If it’s okay with Elvis, it’s okay with me’.”
He Rode Buddy Holly’s Motorbike Around His Hotel Room
Waylon Jennings and Buddy Holly developed a lasting friendship when Waylon was Buddy’s bass guitarist. When Buddy died Waylon was devastated. Before his death Buddy had bought an Ariel Cyclone Motorcycle. In 1979 two of the Crickets from Buddy’s band tracked down that bike and bought it as a surprise for Waylon. They placed it in his hotel room and he got on it, started it up and rode it round the room. This was late at night, after he’d finished a show.
The Name On His Birth Certificate Was Wayland
The name on Waylon Jennings birth certificate was Wayland but it was changed after a baptist preacher congratulated his mother for naming him after the Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas. His mother Lorene, who had never even heard of the university, changed her son’s name to Waylon.
He Blamed Himself For Buddy Holly’s Death
As they were parting company for the onward journey to Moorhead Minnesota with Waylon taking the coach while Buddy Holly took the Beechcraft Bonanza Aeroplane, Holly jokingly said to Jennings “Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up” and Jennings replied jokingly, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes”. Less than 90 minutes later, the plane crashed killing everyone on board.
Waylon wrote and recorded “The Stage (Stars in Heaven)” as a tribute to the Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly. It was often thought that it was this sense of guilt that weighed heavy on Waylon and was partially responsible for his later substance abuse.
He Once Shared An Apartment With Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash rented an apartment in Nashville and Waylon moved in with him for a while, sharing the bills. The apartment was in the Madison Apartments in Madison, Tennessee.
He Shared A Hospital Room With Johnny Cash Where He Saved His Life
Waylon was in hospital in 1988 to have a stent fitted to his heart, (he ended up having a heart by-pass), while in hospital his old friend and ex-room mate, Johnny Cash came to visit. Waylon mentioned how bad he’d been feeling and Johnny realised he shared many of the symptoms. He was tested and subsequently operated on for a heart by-pass too.
They were both patients in the same hospital, at the same time, both recovering from by-pass surgery. If Johnny hadn’t visited Waylon, and if Waylon hadn’t told Johnny how he felt, Johnny Cash would probably have died from undetected and untreated heart disease.
He Earned $25,000 For Having A Wee
Once when he was in negotiations with RCA over his contract, the meeting had reached an impasse, they refused to give in to his financial demands, and Waylon wouldn’t budge either. He just got up without a word and left the meeting. The executives at RCA panicked because they thought he’d walk out on the meeting, so they agreed to give in to his demands.
The reality was he needed to find a toilet as he had to have a wee. He said of this event later, “I rose up, never said a word, walked out. I went to the bathroom to take a leak. When I came back, Neil (his manager) greeted me in the hall. ‘You’re a f—–‘ genius,’ he said.”
He Was Sacked As A Radio DJ For Playing 2 Little Richard Songs Back To Back
Back in the 50s while working for a radio station as a DJ, he was employed for the 4 pm to 10 pm set which included 2 hours of country hits followed by 2 hours of mixed recordings. During the mixed recordings sessions he would include tracks by Chuck Berry and Little Richard. It was after playing 2 Little Richard tracks back to back that he got fired.
He Made An Album For Children
In 1993 Waylon released an album entitled “Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals and Dirt” which featured the track “Shooters Theme” which was a tribute to his 14 year old son Shooter Jennings.
He Sang A Song With Sesame Street’s Big Bird
In 1985 Waylon played a truck driver on a turkey farm who gave a lift to Big Bird and sings “Ain’t no road too long” in the children’s TV show Sesame street.
He Narrated The Dukes Of Hazzard TV Show
Waylon was the narrator on the popular TV show “The Dukes Of Hazzard” and he wrote and sang the show’s theme song “Good Ol’ Boys”.
He Was Partially Responsible For The First Ever Platinum Country Album
Waylon worked with Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and Jessi Colter on the album “Wanted: The Outlaws” in 1976 which became the first ever country album to go platinum.
He Was Also A Highwayman
Waylon formed a band in the mid 80s with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash called The highwaymen.
He Walked Off The Late, Late Show
In 1998 Waylon was due to appear on the Late, Late Show hosted by Tom Snyder. Waylon was already fed up as he felt he should have been allocated the whole show but he had to share with Dr. Laura. So when Dr. Lausa’s slot spilled over into Waylon’s; he got up and walked off the set leaving Tom Snyder with no-one to interview.
He Walked Out Of The 1970 Country Music Awards
He had been scheduled to perform “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” and the producers said time was short and could he just perform one verse and a chorus? Waylon said “Why don’t I just dance across the stage and grin? Maybe do one line. That’ll give you a lot of time”. The producer replied “Don’t get smart either do it or get out, we don’t need you” Waylon said “I decided that was true, and I left.”
He Walked Out Of The “We Are The World” Session
Waylon was all set to record on the 1985 USA for Africa charity song, but he left after getting into a dispute over the song’s lyrics being sung in Swahili because Ethiopians don’t speak Swahili.
He Was A Hand Clapper On “You’re The One”
The Buddy Holly song “ You’re The One” first released in 1961 features hand clapping, one of the hand clappers was Buddy’s friend, Waylon Jennings. He also played Bass guitar for Buddy Holly before Buddy’s unfortunate death in a plane crash.
The First Song He Learned To Play Was “Thirty Pieces Of Silver”
When Waylon was 8 years old his mother taught him to play The song “Thirty Pieces of Silver” on the guitar. He used to practise using other family members instruments until his mum bought him a second-hand Stella guitar.
He Was 14 When He Got His First Paid Performance
When Waylon was 14 he was hired by KVOW radio in Littlefield Texas to perform a 30 minute program. It was also around this time he formed his first band, “The Texas Longhorns” who performed a mixture of country and western, and bluegrass music; the band was not too popular.
He Was Asked To Leave School
After several disciplinary events at school, Waylon was asked to leave by the superintendent when he was 16 years old.
He Met Buddy Holly At A Restaurant
While working at KDAV radio along with other musicians, he bumped into Buddy Holly in a restaurant. This random meeting eventually led to Buddy Holly taking Waylon on as his first artist. He gave hime new clothes, and helped to improve his image. He also arranged for Waylon’s first recording session in Clovis New Mexico where he recorded “Jole Blon” and “When Sin Stops (Love Begins)”. Which included Buddy Holly on guitar along with Tommy Allsup and Saxophonist King Curtis. It was after this that Holly asked Jennings to play bass for him for his “Winter Dance Party Tour”.
He Pulled Away From Nashville
The Nashville sound was favoured by the Nashville producers, but Waylon preferred working with his own band the Waylors. As a result, he was all set to quit the music business altogether. He felt stifled, and as he said himself,”They wouldn’t let you do anything. You had to dress a certain way: you had to do everything a certain way…. They kept trying to destroy me…. I just went about my business and did things my way…. You start messing with my music, I get mean”.
His recording contract was nearing its end when he was rushed into hospital with hepatitis. He grew a beard while he was there, and changed manager, and eventually renegotiated a new contract but kept the beard to fit in with his outlaw status.
He Went Bankrupt Because Of His Cocaine Addiction
During the 80s Waylon’s cocaine addiction reached such heights that at one point he was spending $1,500 per day on it which culminated in him being declared bankrupt and in debt of up to $2.5 million. He stopped using cocaine in 1984.
He Smoked 6 Packs Of Cigarettes A Day
Around the same time as his addiction to cocaine was peaking, he was also smoking upwards of 6 packs of cigarettes a day. This all led to the heart by-pass that saved Johnny Cash’s life.
He Was Part Cherokee and Part Comanche As Well As Being Part Irish And Part Black-Dutch
Waylon’s mother had Comanche and Cherokee ancestry while his father had Irish and Black-Dutch ancestry.
He Won A Channel 13 Talent Show
When he was a child, Waylon won a talent show hosted by Channel 13 in which he sang “Hey Joe”.
Frequently Asked Questions
Waylon Jennings was born on a farm near Littlefield. Texas, US on the 15th of June 1937.
When Waylon Jennings appeared on Sesame street it was with Big Bird. Waylon played a truck driver on a turkey farm and he gave Big Bird a lift in his truck.
Waylon Jennings middle name was Arnold.
Waylon was 8 years old when he first played the guitar. His mother taught him how to play “Thirty Pieces of Silver” on the guitar.
Waylon Jennings has 6 children. 3 girls who are called; Deana, Tomi Lynne, and July Ray, and 3 boys who are called; Shooter, Terry Vance, and Buddy Dean.
Waylon gave up his seat on the plane because he felt sorry for J.P. Richardson otherwise known as The Big Bopper because he was feeling ill and the plane ride would be smoother and faster than travelling by coach.
While living in Nashville, Waylon shared an apartment with Johnny Cash at the Madison Apartments in Madison, Tennessee.
The album WWII was recorded by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson and reached number 3 on the Billboard Country album charts.
The Highwaymen consisted of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson.
Waylon Jennings’ backing band were called The Waylors.
After an alcohol fueled fun fight, George Jones managed to break Waylon Jennings thumb.
When Buddy Holly’s motorcycle found its way into Waylon’s possession, when he found it in his hotel room after a show one night, he rode it around his hotel room.
Walon Jennings has 6 children, 3 girls and 3 boys.
The original name on Waylon’s birth certificate was Wayland, the same as the church, the Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas. (when this was pointed out to his mother, she changed his name to Waylon).
Waylon earned $25,000 for leaving a meeting to take a pee. When Waylon was negotiating a new deal for his contract, he abruptly left the meeting to take a pee. On his return they agreed to his terms, fearful he would leave the meeting with the contract unsigned.
When Waylon released the album “Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals and Dirt” it was aimed at children. It included a track called “Shooters Theme” which was dedicated to his son, Shooter.
Waylon narrated and sang the theme song for the TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard”
The title of the first country album ever to go platinum was “Wanted: The Outlaws” which was recorded by Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.
Waylon’s best selling song was “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” which was released in April 1977 and remained at number one for 5 weeks.
They wanted to cut his act to just one verse and one chorus, he allegedly said I’ll walk backwards and sing one line shall I? To which the producer replied we don’t need you. Waylon agreed and walked out.
The Buddy Holly song that features Waylon Jennings hand clapping is “You’re The One” which was released on August the 21st 1961.
Do You Know Any More?
That’s our 28 impressive facts about Waylon Jennings, have we missed any you think should be included? Let us know in the comments.