CMA Awards 1984: Waylon Jennings Returns To The Stage After Kicking His “21 Years Of Hell” Drug Habit, Debuts “America”

Waylon Jennings country music

Let’s just say Waylon Jennings and the CMA Awards have a complicated history.

He famously walked out of the show in 1970, after they cut his performance short due to time constraints, and considered doing so again in 1975 when he was nominated for Entertainer of the Year, as well as several other awards, but his wife Jessi Colter didn’t win anything.

He stayed that year and gave an extremely short speech (if that’s what you wanna call it), saying in classic Waylon fashion:

“Thank you, they told me to be nice, I don’t know what they meant by that. Thank you.”

I mean, it’s no secret that the man always did exactly what he wanted to do and didn’t give a damn what anyone else thought about it.

And it’s quite obvious that the CMA’s always need him way more than he needed them, but as he got a little bit older, Waylon calmed down a lot, mainly because he kicked a 21-year drug addiction completely by 1984.

He spoke about it quite openly later in life, and in detail in his 1998 book Waylon: An Autobiography, often saying it was “21 years of hell,” fueled by an addiction to cocaine.

And he always hated award shows, but still made appearances every now and then throughout his career, which brings us to the 1984 CMA Awards, when he returned for a full performance to debut “America.”

Written by Sammy Johns, Waylon released it as the lead single to his 1984 Waylon’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 compilation album. It peaked at #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

He put it out the year he parted ways from RCA Records after two decades with the label, because he wanted a special song to mark the occasion and was inspired by the Olympics happening that year.

Introduced by Kenny Rogers, Waylon looks and sounds much healthier here than some of the live performances you can find online prior to the mid-80’s, and it’s a lesser-known moment from CMA Awards history that’s actually one of my favorite’s.

If he ever had any bad blood with the show, you’d never know it by watching this all-time great performance:


57th Annual CMA Awards Nominees

Lainey Wilson is leading the pack with a whopping nine nominations, and first-time nominee Jelly Roll leads all male artists with five nominations. Luke Combs and HARDY have four nominations each.

The 57th Annual CMA Awards will once again be hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning as the ceremony broadcasts live from Nashville Wednesday, November 8th.

And the nominees are…


Luke Combs
Chris Stapleton
Carrie Underwood
Morgan Wallen
Lainey Wilson


Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Ashley McBryde
Carly Pearce
Lainey Wilson


Luke Combs
Jelly Roll
Cody Johnson
Chris Stapleton
Morgan Wallen

New Artist

Zach Bryan
Jelly Roll
Parker McCollum
Megan Moroney


Lady A
Little Big Town
Old Dominion
Zac Brown Band


Brooks & Dunn
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Maddie & Tae
The War And Treaty


“Fast Car”; Luke Combs; Producer: Luke Combs, Chip Matthews, Jonathon Singleton; Mix Engineer: Chip Matthews
“Heart Like A Truck”; Lainey Wilson; Producer: Jay Joyce; Mix Engineers: Jason Hall, Jay Joyce
“Need A Favor”; Jelly Roll; Producer: Austin Nivarel; Mix Engineer: Jeff Braun
“Next Thing You Know”; Jordan Davis; Producer: Paul DiGiovanni; Mix Engineer: Jim Cooley
“Wait In The Truck”; Hardy f/Lainey Wilson; Producers: Hardy, Joey Moi, Jordan Schmidt, Derek Wells; Mix Engineer: Joey Moi


Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville; Producers: John Osborne, John Peets; Mix Engineers: Gena Johnson, John Osborne
Bell Bottom Country; Lainey Wilson; Producer: Jay Joyce; Mix Engineers: Jason Hall, Jay Joyce
Gettin’ Old; Luke Combs; Producers Luke Combs, Chip Matthews, Jonathan Singleton; Mix Engineers: Michael H. Brauer, Jim Cooley, Chip Matthews
One Thing At A Time; Morgan Wallen Producers: Jacob Durrett, Charlie Handsome, Joey Moi, Cameron Montgomery Mix Engineers: Josh Ditty, Joey Moi, Eivind Nordland
Rolling Up the Welcome Mat; Kelsea Ballerini Producers: Kelsea Ballerini, Alysa Vanderheym; Mix Engineers: Dan Grech-Marguerat, Alysa Vanderheym


“Fast Car”; Songwriter: Tracy Chapman
“Heart Like A Truck”; Songwriters: Trannie Anderson, Dallas Wilson, Lainey Wilson
“Next Thing You Know”; Songwriters: Jordan Davis, Greylan James, Chase McGill, Josh Osborne
“Tennessee Orange”; Songwriters: David Fanning, Paul Jenkins, Megan Moroney, Ben Williams
“Wait In The Truck”; Songwriters: Renee Blair, Michael Hardy, Hunter Phelps, Jordan Schmidt


“Save Me”; Jelly Roll w/Lainey Wilson; Producers: Zach Crowell, David Ray Stevens
“She Had Me At Heads Carolina (Remix)” Cole Swindell & Jo Dee Messina; Producer: Zach Crowell
“Thank God”; Kane Brown w/Katelyn Brown; Producer: Dann Huff
“Wait In The Truck”; Hardy f/Lainey Wilson; Producers: Hardy, Joey Moi, Jordan Schmidt, Derek Wells
“We Don’t Fight Anymore”; Carly Pearce f/Chris Stapleton; Producers: Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Carly Pearce


Jenee Fleenor
Paul Franklin
Rob McNelley
Derek Wells
Charlie Worsham


“Light On In The Kitchen”; Ashley McBryde; Director: Reid Long
“Memory Lane”; Old Dominion; Directors: Mason Allen, Nicki Fletcher
“Need A Favor”; Jelly Roll; Director: Patrick Tohill
“Next Thing You Know”; Jordan Davis; Director: Running Bear
“Wait In The Truck”; Hardy f/Lainey Wilson; Director: Justin Clough

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock