Remember When Luke Bryan Pissed Off Waylon Jennings’ Family With His “Strung Out On Drugs” Comments?

Waylon Jennings, Luke Bryan are posing for a picture
David Redfern/Redferns via Getty Images

There’s no bad blood between Shooter Jennings and Luke Bryan these days, but back in 2015, Luke Bryan definitely pissed off a few members of Waylon Jennings’ family.

Let’s take a look back…

Back in 2015, Luke Bryan gave an interview to Hits Daily Double, and when asked about the party atmosphere of country music at the time, and the hip hop and rock influences of the genre, Luke seemed to take a shot at country legends like Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings:

“I think that people who want Merle, Willie and Waylon just need to buy Merle, Willie and Waylon. … I’m not an outlaw country singer. I don’t do cocaine and run around. So I’m not going to sing outlaw country.

I like to hunt, fish, ride around on my farm, build a big bonfire and drink some beers—and that’s what I sing about. It’s what I know. I don’t know about laying in the gutter, strung out on drugs. I don’t really want to do that.”

Kind of a weird thing to say coming from a 40-year old who still sings about getting drunk at the beach with college girls on spring break, but whatever… you do you, Luke.

And it wasn’t really even an answer to the question…

Anyways, Luke’s comments made their way back to the Jennings family, who were none too pleased with the cheap shot at the legend. Waylon’s daughter-in-law, Kathy Pinkerman Jennings, took to social media to call Luke out:

“I hope your family members are proud of you for using your worldwide platform to take the time to disrespect my father-in-law.

You have managed to prove to the world your true self. Albeit that Waylon’s drug use is well documented and something he overcame, I assure you, he was never ‘laying in a gutter.’” 

She even published this video on YouTube:

The backlash sent Luke into damage control, reaching out to the family to clarify his remarks and apologize for any disrespect. And for at least one well-known member of the family, he’s accepted Luke’s apology.

Waylon’s son Shooter Jennings addressed the controversy and said that Luke even reached out to his mom, Jessi Colter, to clear the air. The gesture was something that Shooter said won him over:

“Luke Bryan called my mom today to clarify that he would never disrespect my dad or me or any of us.

He also asked for Buddy’s number to call Kathy. Whether or not he does, that takes a lot of guts.

I misfired and said some things in the past about people, namely John Mayer. And I didn’t have the guts to apologize. So, that being said, that kinda won me over.”

Shooter also said that he understands where Luke was coming from, and defended the changing landscape in country music:

“I love Kathy for her defense of the family and caring so much for the legacy.

But as my mom says, [some] people out there want things the way it WAS and nothing else. I’m not defending pop music but I am defending new music. My dad never liked labels and neither do I.”

And he said that Luke’s comments weren’t really a big deal to him, because he understands how the media works when it comes to chopping up interviews to get a headline-worthy quote,

For his part, Luke also took to social media to address the controversy, saying that he wasn’t trying to disrespect the legends who came before him:

“It’s so frustrating that something negative has spun out of the story. I would never speak against any artist. It’s not my style. I consider Willie, Waylon and Merle musical heroes.

I was trying to state what I was about and where I come from with my music. It’s as simple as that.”

Well, it sounds like any beef that was there between the Jennings family and Luke Bryan has been squashed – at least as far as Waylon’s son Shooter is concerned.

But does that mean Shooter’s out there bumping “Country Girl Shake It For Me?” Well, not hardly…

“His music isn’t something I find myself listening to, but that’s not personal, I don’t listen to any new country besides a few underground acts that are a pretty far reach to even call them straight country.

My point is it’s all flush in my book. He said some [stuff] and because of the Internet it came back on him. But he went above and beyond and manned up and apologized. In the long run I believe his image has improved.”

And as it turns out, Ben Haggard, the son of Merle Haggard, also received an apology phone call.

He posted the details on Instagram:

“Got a call from Nashville yesterday, picked up the phone and it was Luke Bryan. He called to personally apologize to me and the Haggard family for his comments in a recent interview.

I have never spoken to Luke in my life, but one thing was for sure, the sincerity in his voice.

Let’s all remember (including myself) we’re all humans, we make mistakes and say things we wish we hadn’t.”

Luke further clarified his comments with the Associated Press:

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