These two go way back.
We sadly lost the late, great Loretta Lynn last year, though her mark on the country music industry will last forever.
And beyond her incredible music, she always had so many great stories about her time in Music City and the unique things that she experienced over the decades, especially being friends with some other icons like Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and plenty more.
One story in particular about meeting a certain disc jockey in an old 1977 feature with Rolling Stone, while she was out road in the summer of 1960 with her husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn, is one of my all-time favorites.
She and Doo, as she often referred to her husband of almost 50 years, were on a three-month, self-funded tour promoting her very first single “Honky Tonk Girl,” just trying to get anyone to play the song.
Of the trek, she wrote in her 2003 memoir Still Woman Enough:
“We were pitiful… Because we were too poor to stay in hotels, we slept in the car and ate baloney and cheese sandwiches in the parks…
Then we’d go into the radio station and pester the DJ to play my record. We didn’t care if it was a 500-watt local station or a 50,000-watt clear-channel station. We’d hit them all.
We were on the road three months.”
All that hard work paid off, because the single ultimately became her first radio hit, as it peaked at #14 on the U.S. Hot Country Songs chart… not too shabby for a mountain girl with no record label and no real name recognition whatsoever.
She met many different station managers and disc jockeys that summer, but one in particular really stood out to her, and they became fast friends, writing letters back and forth and forming a strong bond.
His name was Waylon Jennings:
“I met a disc jockey who was a little boy, same age as me, pimples on his face, greasy hair.
He was so nice to me that we used to write letters back and forth until he got into singing too.”
What a story… it’s so cool to imagine their first meeting at a small radio station way back then, especially knowing what icons and legends they both ultimately became.
Legends recognize legends, or something like that, right?
Like Loretta mentioned, Waylon started out as a radio disc jockey in Texas in the mid-50’s when he was still a teenager.
It’s actually how Waylon first got in contact with the late Buddy Holly, and he started playing bass in Buddy’s band for roughly a year, until Buddy and a couple other band members tragically passed away in a plane crash, also known as “the day music died.”
Though Loretta and Waylon seemingly met by chance very early in their respective careers, I like to think they both saw in each other what they saw in themselves, which ultimately led them both to country music superstardom… pure, raw and authentic talent, and the drive to stick with it and tell their truth no matter what it took.
To go back and be a fly on the wall when those two first met… I can’t even imagine what that must’ve been like.
They’re two of the most authentic artists, if not the most authentic artists, to ever make music, and I just love the fact that they hit it off like that way back before either one of them had really done anything or had even signed a record deal.
Now seems like a good time to cue up the song that started it all, “Honky Tonk Girl”: