It’s no secret that they were best friends in the country music industry, and are both credited as pioneers in the outlaw country movement of the 1970s.
Although, Waylon admitted plenty of times that was more of a marketing strategy than anything else, and once said that the most “outlaw” thing Willie ever did was “that he probably came to town and double-parked on Music Row.”
They put out albums together, like their classic 1978 Waylon & Willie record, and even spent a decent amount of time out on the road touring with each other.
But according to Willie’s 2012 memoir, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, the duo actually met at an all-night restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona, before Waylon had even moved to Nashville:
“I first saw him at a place in, I think it was Phoenix, when he was working at a bar there. And I watched his show, and he played good guitar, and he sang good.”
And Willie, who had experienced some trouble making it in Music City, ultimately made a great career move and returned back home to Texas to work on his music in Austin, told Waylon he should stay in Arizona and keep doing what he was doing there:
“And I met him after the show and we were talking, and he said, ‘What do you think I oughta do? Do you think I oughta go to Nashville?’
I said, ‘How much money you making?’ He said, ‘I think $400 a week.’ I said, ‘Stay where you are.’
Of course, he didn’t listen to me, he went on to Nashville and did great.”
While they both obviously made the right calls in terms of their respective careers and built a lifelong friendship off the stage, as well, that doesn’t mean they always got along…
Willie said they were about as bad as an old married couple when it came to bickering, and that they rarely ever agreed on anything:
“Well, you know, Waylon and I were like two old married people.
We fought about everything and if he was for it, I was against it. And you know, that’s kinda the way it was.
But we were great friends.”
And I think we can all take a page out of their book.
Whether it was disagreements over big topics, like politics and religion, or smaller stuff, like the phrasing of a song or a production choice, they never let that get in the way of their relationship and what they thought about each other as people.
Hell, that seems like the most outlaw thing you can do these days…
Check out Willie talking about his old fried Waylon back in 2018:
And of course, the signature song from two of my favorite cowboys…
“Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”