If an event or appearance started to turn south, Waylon was often known to just walk away, leaving bystanders and producers stunned in his wake. Frankly, you’ve got to respect the “takes-no-shit” attitude of the man… Lord knows we could use a little more backbone in country music these days.
In 1970, Jennings walked out of the CMA Awards after being scheduled to perform his hit, “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line.”
Producers wanted him to cut down his performance, and he didn’t take kindly to the request.
“One year I’d stormed out of the awards and didn’t mind telling anyone who would listen why. It was Kris Kristofferson’s night… he was a shoo-in for several categories. I had been scheduled to perform ‘Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line.’
They said they were strapped for time, and they wanted me to cut the song to one verse and chorus. I said, ‘Why don’t I just dance across the stage and grin? Maybe do one line. That’ll give you a lot of time.’
They told me to not get smart. Either I did it or I got out. They said, ‘We don’t need you.’ I decided that was true, and I left.”
He also walked out of the massive group recording of “We Are The World” in 1985, but that’s another long story…
However, the walk-out shenanigans didn’t end there.
In 1998, Waylon was scheduled to be interviewed by talk show host, Tom Snyder. According to publicists, Waylon only agreed to come on The Late Late Show if he was the only guest.
And after the show introduced a second guest with quite an extensive interview, it started cutting into the 30-minute time-slot he was promised.
Jessi Colter, Jennings wife at the time, recalled Waylon watching the interview between Tom Snyder and his other scheduled guest backstage, then looking over at her and saying, “we’re leaving.”
And they did just that.
This walk-out left host Tom Snyder stunned with over 15 minutes of television time to fill by himself.
When the show went live after Waylon’s exit, Snyder was left tripping over words. He told the live audience:
“Waylon Jennings walked out of here about 5 or 10 minutes ago. He is not here… I have never had anybody leave before they came on.”
Willie Nelson recalled the event, and how it became such a legendary moment at the time, and even still today:
“Had it not happened it would’ve just been another television show that Waylon did, but since it did everybody talks about it.”