Waylon Jennings

Waylon Jennings
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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 baritione 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. Jennings was born and raised in Littlefield, Texas, where he learned how to play guitar by the time he was eight. When he was 12 years old, he was a DJ for a local radio station and, shortly afterward, he formed his first band. Two years later he left school and spent the next few years picking cotton, eventually moving to Lubbock, Texas in 1954. Once he was in Lubbock, he got a job at the radio station KLLL, where he befriended Buddy Holly during one of the station's shows. Holly became Jennings' mentor, teaching him guitar licks, collaborating on songs and producing Jennings' first single, "Jole Blon," which was released on Brunswick in 1958. Later that year, Waylon became the temporary bass player for Buddy's band the Crickets, playing with the rock & roller on his final tour. Jennings was also scheduled to fly on the plane ride that ended in Holly's tragic death in early 1959, but he gave up his seat at the last minute to the Big Bopper, who was suffering from a cold. Following Buddy's death, Jennings returned to Lubbock, where he spent two years mourning the loss of his friend and working as a DJ. In late 1960, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he founded a rockabilly band called the Waylors. Jennings and the Waylors began to earn a local following through their performances at the local club JD's, eventually signing to the independent label Trend in 1961. None of the group's singles made any impact and Jennings began wroking for Audio Recorders as a record producer. In 1963, Waylon moved to Los Angeles, where he landed a contract with Herb Alpert's A&M Records. By this point, Waylon's music was pure country, and Alpert wanted to move him toward the pop market; Jennings didn't cave in to the demands and his sole single, "Sing the Girl a Song, Bill," and album for A&M flopped. Following the A&M debacle, Jennings landed a contract with RCA with help from Chet Atkins and Bobby Bare, and he moved to Nashville in 1965. After arriving in Nashville, he moved in with Johnny Cash, and the two musicians began a long-lasting friendship, which eventually resulted in a collaboration in the form of the Highwaymen in the '80s. Waylon released his first single for RCA, "That's the Chance I'll Have to Take," late in the summer of 1965 and it became a minor hit. With his second single, "Stop the World (And Let Me Off)," he had his first Top 40 country hit and it began a string of moderate hits that eventually developed into several Top 10 singles — "Walk on Out of My Mind," "I Got You," "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line," "Yours Love" — in 1968. At this point, he was working with Nashville session man and developing a sound that was halfway between honky tonk and folk. As the next decade began, he started to move his music toward hardcore country. In 1970, Jennings recorded several songs by a struggling but promising songwriter called Kris Kristofferson, which led to a pair of ambitious albums — Singer of Sad Songs and Ladies Love Outlaws — the following year. On these two records, he developed the roots of outlaw country, creating a harder, tougher muscular sound with a selection of songs by writers like Alex Harvey and Hoyt Axton. During the following year, Waylon began collaborating with Willie Nelson, recording and writing several songs with the songwriter. Just as importantly, he also renegotiated his contract with RCA in 1972, demanding that he assume the production and artistic control of his records. Honky Tonk Heroes, released in 1973, was the first album released under this new contract. Comprised almost entirely of songs by the then-unknown songwriter Billy Joe Shaver and recorded with Jennings' road band, the album was an edgy, bass-driven and surly variation on stripped-down honky tonk. Jennings and his new sound slowly began to gain more fans, and in 1974 he had his first number one, "This Time," followed by yet another number one single, "I'm a Ramblin' Man," and the number two "Rainy Day Woman." Waylon's success continued throughout 1975, as Dreaming My Dreams — featuring one of his signature songs, the number one "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" — reached number 49 on the pop charts; he was also voted the Country Music Association's Male Vocalist of the Year. Jennings truly crossed over into the mainstream in 1976, when Wanted! The Outlaws — a various-artists compilation of previously-released material that concentrated on Waylon, but also featured songs from his wife Jessi Colter, Willie Nelson and Tompall Glaser — peaked at number one on the pop charts. Following the success of Wanted!, Waylon became a superstar, as well known to the mainstream pop audience as he was to the country audience. For the next six years, Jennings' albums consistently charted in the pop Top 50 and went gold. During this time, he recorded a number of duets with Nelson, including the multi-platinum Waylon and Willie (1978) which featured the number one single "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." Over the course of the late '70s and early '80s, Jennings scored ten number one hits, including "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" (which hit number 25 on the pop charts and spent six weeks at the top of the country charts), "The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want to Get Over You)," "I've Always Been Crazy," "Amanda," "Theme from 'The Dukes of Hazzard' (Good Ol' Boys)" and three duets with Nelson. By the mid-'80s, the momentum of Waylon's career began to slow somewhat, due to his drug abuse and the decline of the entire outlaw country movement. Jennings kicked his substance habits cold turkey in the mid-'80s and formed the supergroup the Highwaymen with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash in 1985; over the next decade, the band released three albums, yet none of them were more successful than their debut, which spawned the number one single, "Highwayman." Also in 1985, Jennings parted ways with RCA, signing with MCA Records the following year. At first, he had several hit singles for the label, including the number one "Rose in Paradise," but by the end of the '80s, he was no longer able to crack the Top 40. In 1990, Waylon switched labels again, signing with Epic. "Wrong," his first single for the label, reached the Top 10 in 1990 and "The Eagle" reached the Top 40 the following year, but after that minor hit, none of his singles were charting. Despite his decreased sales — which were largely due to the shifting tastes in country music — Waylon Jennings remained a superstar throughout the '90s, and was able to draw large crowds whenever he performed a concert, while many of his records continued to receive positive reviews. In 1996, he signed to Justice Records, where he released the acclaimed Right for the Time. Closing In on the Fire followed in 1998. His work was slowed by his health in the years following that album, as complications from diabetes made it difficult for him to walk. His foot was amputated in December 2001 because of his illness, and he died on February 13, 2002 at his home in Arizona. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine All Music Guide
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01/04/2010 - Classic Waylon Jennings Albums to Be Re-Released - Read More
02/06/2009 - Waylon Jennings: The Nashville Rebel - Read More
11/03/2008 - Waylon Jennings' Haunting Last Recordings - Read More
10/11/2006 - Waylon Jennings  - Read More
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01/02/2004 - Waylon Jennings Interview - Read More
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Average Rating : 4.8              Total Reviews: 36

Waylon Jennings  11/07/2008            
A great artist, but you should also look at Steve Young. He is a songwriter/singer who contributed a whole bunch of Waylon's most memorable songs.
Waylon Jennings  10/24/2008            
I've got every song ever put on tape or cd by Waylon and maybe a few more but this is by far - BY FAR- the best. The way he does Outlaw Sh** on this one makes me tremble. Buy it!
Waylon Jennings  05/11/2008            
Jackson Taylor
The best record of all time, this record made me who I am, for better or for worst. It is in my DNA. God blees Waylon, Billy Joe & Coyboy Jack only he could have produced this amazing work of art!!!
Waylon Jennings  10/04/2007            
Fragale from PA
I guess I could consider myself a member a generation that is ruled by hip-hop artists at the top of many charts.... But the first time I heard WAYLON JENNINGS, I was hooked. I am 25 years old and a day dosn't pass with out listening to my hero.
Waylon Jennings  08/31/2007            
Waylon rules!
Waylon Jennings  11/15/2006            
Superb 4-CD encapsulation of Jennings' career
Jennings catalog has seen its share of reissues, in both original albums and anthologies, but never before has a box set captured the full story of his career. Reissues of original albums have told Jennings' story in bits and pieces, single-disc anthologies have cherry-picked the chart highlights, and Bear Family's import box sets "Destiny's Child" and "Six Strings Away" have laboriously cataloged the details of his pre-outlaw career. But with the release of this beautifully produced 4-CD collection, RCA provides both depth and breadth, essaying Jennings transition from a prot้g้ of Buddy Holly to purveyor of folk- and country-rock hybrids to increasingly uncomfortable Nashville cat to rebel immortality and self-direction. Jennings' transformation is highly personal yet shared out loud with his audience; and especially visceral when condensed from thirty-seven years of individual albums to a four-disc box-set. The earliest side here, one of three cut under the direction of Holly in 1958, is a version of the Cajun classic "Jole Blon" featuring a '50s-styled sax and a waltz-time saunter. The collection's second track, "My Baby Walks All Over Me," dates to Jennings' initial early '60s residency in Arizona, with Ray Corbin's twangy lead guitar retaining the sort of energy laid down by James Burton on early tracks by Ricky Nelson. Next, the set jump-cuts to Jennings mid-60s beginnings at RCA where the sound was more polished (and in stereo), the jumpier tempos had relaxed to a cantor, and Jennings voice turned to an earthy croon. Jennings' enduring legacy was minted by his fight for artistic independence in the early-70s, but his initial RCA sides are just as worthy as his outlaw breakthrough. He may have felt constricted by RCA's factory song construction, but the results included some of his most endearing sides, including "Stop the World and Let Me Off," "(That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me," "Mental Revenge," "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line," and "Brown Eyed Handsome Man." Even with Chet Atkins' and a studio full of Nashville A-listers smoothing the background, Jennings gravitas carried every single. The late-60s original "Just to Satisfy You" shows Jennings at the peak of his pre-outlaw period, with a stripped down arrangement and lightly jazzed beat accompanying his commanding baritone. Ironically, it was an earlier, more raw recording of this same song that had brought the Jennings to RCA's attention several years earlier. Lesser remembered treats from this era include a hit duet with Anita Carter on "I Got You," a soulful duet with Jessi Colter on her "I Ain't the One," and the title track to the American International Pictures film "Nashville Rebel." The latter, recorded in 1966 by Harlan Howard, was tremendously prophetic, with lines like "I've got things to do, and things to say in my own way." By the end of the decade, the Nashville system – writers, producers, studios and session musicians all supplied by the label – left Jennings unfulfilled. He did indeed have things to say in his own way, and that included a broader choice of writers and recording venues, and most importantly, the familiarity and warmth of recording with his road band. RCA's way of doing things wasn't producing the commercial success he felt he could achieve, and so Jennings found himself compromised both artistically and financially. The end of the '60s provided the circumstances for Jennings to make a change. He'd grown increasingly uncomfortable with RCA's cookie-cutter style, married Jessi Colter (his third and lasting marriage), and been given time to think by a bout of hepatitis that temporarily ended his touring. Willie Nelson had decamped to Austin with similar thoughts of independence, and Jennings longtime drummer Richie Albright suggested that they push for the sort of artistic freedoms afforded RCA's rock acts. By mid-decade, Jennings had released the successful "Honky Tonk Heroes" and "Ladies Love Outlaws" LPs, and with his RCA contract up for renewal, he held a strong hand. By the tail-end of his initial contract he'd already begun to wrest control of his recordings away from RCA. 1972's slowed-down take of Buck Owens' "Under Your Spell Again" is sung as a duet with Colter, a pair of tracks from "Lonesome On'ry and Mean" features Jennings' roadband, and a co-producer credit on "You Can Have Her" pointed to the following year's independence day. Jennings hired himself a New York City manager and gained the desired concessions in re-signing with RCA. He was now free to record what he wanted how he wanted and with who he wanted to play and produce. The initial fruit of this new-found freedom was 1973's legendary "Honky Tonk Heroes" LP. Jennings co-produced with Tompall Glaser and recorded an album of songs by Nashville-outsider Billy Joe Shaver. The album's title track begins in tribute to Jimmie Rodgers before segueing to a twangy guitar-and-drums sound that hadn't much been heard in Nashville. The stripped-down arrangements have a more live feel than anything Jennings had recorded before, and Shaver's songs were fresh and direct. To further insulate himself from label pressures, Jennings moved his recording sessions from RCA to Tompall Glaser's independent studio, subsequently dubbed "Hillbilly Central." The initial LP from this arrangement, "This Time," gave Jennings his first #1 single with its title track. Thus began a streak of spectacular albums, including "The Ramblin' Man," "Dreaming My Dreams" and "Are You Ready for the Country," and a string of iconic hits that included "I'm a Ramblin' Man," "Rainy Day Woman," "Amanda," and "Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way." Jennings toured extensively with this material, and disc 3 opens with a trio of cuts (from 1974's "Waylon Live") that shows off his towering talent as a stage performer. Jennings fame crossed over to the pop charts with "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," and his involvement with "The Dukes of Hazzard" brought his theme song and narration to televisions nationwide. His albums of the early '80s continued to track new ground, and his singles, including duets with Willie Nelson, and covers of Otis Redding, Little Richard and Eagles hits, kept him on the upper-reaches of the charts. In the mid-80s Jennings recorded an album with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson as The Highwaymen and moved his solo career from RCA to MCA. At MCA, producer Jimmy Bowen crafted a decidedly more modern sound (gone is the steel, in is subtle synthesizer), but Jennings still sounds great, and the material is well chosen. A 1990 move to Epic yielded the top-10 "Wrong" before diabetes and carpal tunnel syndrome slowed Jennings work. A few more albums for indie labels (not anthologized here) found his artistic flame undimmed. The collection closes with the well-chosen, "I Do Believe," from 1995's reunion of The Highwaymen. Jennings song is resolutely independent, yet faithful, as had been his entire career. Completists will note a few omissions (nothing from his lackluster stint with A&M is included, nor is the Grammyฎ winning take of "MacArthur Park"), and fans may miss a few favorite album tracks, but that isn't the purpose of this set. Further, this isn't filled with rarities and alternate takes; again, that's not the point of this box. Instead, these 92 selections paint the full picture of Jennings artistic arc, from proto-rock 'n' roller, to industry man, to his own man. Across four discs, Jennings talent can't be denied, whether singing within the confines of Nashville's system, or flung wide-open to his personal interpretation. Lenny Kaye's introductory essay is written as both a friend and biographer, filled with warm remembrances and penetrating insights. Rich Kienzle's liner notes provide detail on Jennings' career, recording the pivotal moments that created these recordings. This is a superb introduction to Jennings' career, and a wonderfully listenable condensation for fans. [ฉ2006 redtunictroll at hotmail dot com]
Waylon Jennings  05/30/2006            
ITS A TRIBUTE ALBUM,GET IT There will never be another Waylon I just get a kick out of people even trying to do his songs.He left us way too soon I saw at least 14 waylon shows well thats how many concerts stubs I saved.Dont talk the album down I am sure the royalties might come in handy
Waylon Jennings  05/15/2006            
The last guy is a jackass. First of all, if he's gonna talk poop, he needs to do his homework. He can't spell. His name is Bleu, not Blue. Second, Bleu has performed that song at his own shows for years. So if you like it or not, his band has practiced that tune to their best ability.
Waylon Jennings  04/25/2006            
C.L. Wake
why cant I find Folk-Country by Waylon Jennings cant find it anywhere HELP.
Waylon Jennings  03/14/2006            
california gal
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