Waylon Arnold Jennings (June 15, 1937 – February 13, 2002) was the Balladeer for the episode "The Legend of Kid Friendly".

Early life

Waylon Arnold Jennings was born on June 15, 1937 on the J.W. Bitner Farm, near Littlefield, Texas, the Lamb County seat.[1] He was the son of Lorene Beatrice (née Shipley) and William Albert Jennings.[2]. The Jennings family line descended from Irish and Black-Dutch. Meanwhile, the Shipley family moved from Tennessee and settled in Texas. The Shipley line descended from Cherokee and Comanche families.[1]

The name on his birth certificate was Wayland, meaning land by the highway. His name was changed after a Baptist preacher visited Jennings's parents and congratulated his mother for naming him after the Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas. Lorene Jennings, who had been unaware of the college, changed the spelling to Waylon. Jennings later expressed in his autobiography, "I didn't like Waylon. It sounded corny and hillbilly, but it's been good to me, and I'm pretty well at peace with it right now."[1]

After working as a laborer on the Bittner farm, Jennings' father moved the family to Littlefield and established a retail creamery.[1] When Jennings was eight, his mother taught him to play guitar with the tune "Thirty Pieces of Silver". Jennings used to practice with his relatives' guitars, until his mother bought him a used Stella, and later ordered a Harmony Patrician.[1] Early influences were Bob Wills, Floyd Tillman, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Carl Smith, and Elvis Presley.[3][1][4][5]

Beginning at family gatherings, Jennings advanced to perform at the Youth Center with Anthony Bonanno, followed by appearances at the local Jaycees and Lions clubs. He won a talent show at Channel 13, in Lubbock, Texas, singing "Hey Joe". He later made frequent performances at the Palace Theater in Littlefield, during local talent night.[1]

Personal life

Jennings was married four times, and had six children. He was first married to Maxine Caroll Lawrence in 1956 at age 18, with whom he had four children: Terry Vance Jennings (born January 21, 1957), Julie Rae Jennings (born August 12, 1958), Buddy Dean Jennings (born March 21, 1960), and Deana Jennings. Jennings married again on December 10, 1962 to Lynne Jones, adopting a child, Tomi Lynne. They divorced in 1967. He next married Barbara Rood. He composed the song "This Time" about the trials and tribulations of his marriages and divorces. He married for the fourth and final time in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 26, 1969 to Jessi Colter. Colter and Jennings had one son, Waylon Albright "Shooter" Jennings (born May 19, 1979). Colter had one daughter, Jennifer, from her previous marriage. In the early 1980s, Colter and Jennings nearly divorced due to his addiction to drugs and other forms of substance abuse. However, they remained together until Jennings's death in 2002. Jennings' grandson, William "Struggle" Harness, became a rap/hip hop artist, based in Nashville.

In 1997, he stopped touring to be close to his family. To set an example about the importance of education to his son Waylon Albright, Jennings earned a GED at age 52.[1][6]

Addiction and recovery

Jennings started to consume amphetamines at the time he lived with Johnny Cash during the mid-1960s. Jennings later stated, "Pills were the artificial energy on which Nashville ran around the clock."[3] In 1977, Jennings was arrested by federal agents for conspiracy and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. A private courier warned the Drug Enforcement Administration about the package sent to Jennings by a New York colleague that contained 27 grams of cocaine. The DEA and the police went to Jennings's recording studio. They found no evidence, because while they were waiting for a search warrant, Jennings flushed the cocaine. The charges were later dropped and Jennings was released.[1] The episode was recounted in Jennings's song "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Outta Hand?"[1]

During the early 1980s, his cocaine addiction intensified. Jennings claimed to have spent $1,500 daily to satisfy his addiction, draining his personal finances and leaving him bankrupt with debt of up to $2.5 million.[1][1] Though he insisted on repaying the debt and did additional tours to earn the funds, his work became less focused and his tours deteriorated.[1] Jennings decided to quit his addictions, leased a home in the Phoenix, Arizona, area and spent a month detoxing himself, intending to start using cocaine again in a more controlled fashion afterward. In 1984 he quit cocaine. Jennings claimed that his son Shooter was the main inspiration to quit permanently.[1]

Illness and death

Jennings's health had been deteriorating for years before his death. After quitting cocaine, he ended his habit of smoking six packs of cigarettes daily in 1988.[7] The same year he underwent heart bypass surgery.[1] By 2000 his diabetes worsened, and the pain reduced his mobility, forcing Jennings to end most touring.[1] Later the same year he underwent surgery to improve his leg circulation.[3] In December 2001 his left foot was amputated at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. On February 13, 2002, Jennings died in his sleep of diabetic complications in Chandler, Arizona. He was buried in the Mesa City Cemetery, in Mesa, Arizona. At the funeral ceremony, on February 15, Colter sang "Storms Never Last" for the attendees, who included Jennings's close friends and fellow musicians.[1]

Songs he performed

External links


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 Jasinski, Laurie 2012, p. 432.
  2. Jennings, Waylon; Kaye, Lenny 1996, p. 4.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dansby, Andrew (February 14, 2002). "Waylon Jennings Dead at Sixty-four". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media LLC). Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  4. Jennings, Waylon; Kaye, Lenny 1996, p. 271.
  5. Jennings, Waylon; Kaye, Lenny 1996, p. 34.
  6. Kingsbury2004, p. 264.
  7. "The Outlaw in Love". Retrieved 2013-07-03.
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