The Country Music Association Once Told Waylon Jennings That He’d “Never” Get Into The Country Music Hall Of Fame

Waylon Jennings country music
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And, obviously, not that he cared at all, but Waylon Jennings definitely got the last laugh with this one.

Let’s just say, the CMA Awards (which is run by the Country Music Association) and Waylon have a rather complicated relationship, which pretty much started in 1970 after his performance was cut short because producers were running short on time.

They asked Waylon if he could cut the song to only a verse and a chorus, and in his own words, Waylon explained that he “stormed out”:

“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.”


Later, in 1975, Hoss was nominated for a ton of awards including Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year.

And as you can probably guess by now, that evening didn’t exactly go according to plan, either…

Waylon won the coveted Entertainer of the Year award that year, but felt bad, because his wife Jessi Colter didn’t win anything.

His manager Neil Reshen gave him a heads up as they were sitting in the audience waiting for the announcement, which Waylon also found ridiculous because obviously everyone already knew who the winners were (implying that they were “rigged” in a way, which isn’t totally untrue still today), saying he really wanted to just get up and leave at that point.

He stayed for his wife Jessi because she wanted to be there, but he gave an all-time great speech in the process, saying very simply:

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

And that’s just stuff that we know about or was caught on camera… I can only imagine what went on behind closed doors.

Which brings me to this incredible story that paints a picture of how strained the relationship really was between Waylon and the Country Music Association.

Around the time of his Country Music Hall of Fame induction in 2001, Waylon did some press, and flat out said to CMT that he didn’t really care at all that he was being bestowed with what many artists would consider a huge honor and that it meant:

“Absolutely nothing, if you want to know the truth about it.”

And he actually admitted that the powers-that-be over at the Country Music Association told him that he’d “never” get into the Hall of fame, and of course, he couldn’t give a rats ass because that was never a goal he had:

“They told me years ago I’d never be in the Hall, which was all right with me.

I think you need to play your music and do the best you can with that, and that’s what you’ll be remembered for.”

Also, it’s pretty rich to think of telling the ultimate country outlaw, who was part of the first-ever Platinum selling country music record with Wanted! The Outlaws, something like that.

Clearly, they needed him way more than he ever needed them, which makes this story that much better.

In another all-time outlaw movie, which just drives this whole point and story home, Waylon didn’t even attend the Hall of Fame induction dinner, and instead sent his son Buddy Jennings to accept the honor on his behalf, saying:

“I let one of my sons go there and accept it. I think it meant something to my kids, and that’s enough.”

One of the realest, most talented artists to ever do it, to put it mildly.

And with the 57th annual show airing live tonight, we’ll of course be live tweeting the event once again, so be sure to tune in for some laughs, head scratches, and (hopefully) a few celebrations as we take in the spectacle that is the Country Music Awards, so be sure to follow along on X (@whiskeyriff) for all of the fun.

Lainey Wilson is leading the pack with 9 total nominations and Jelly Roll leads all the dudes with 5, while Luke Combs and HARDY have four each. Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning will host the show live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

You can check out the full list of nominees HERE.

And if you’ve never seen it before, or just need a good laugh today, please do yourself a favor and check out that classic 1975 Entertainer of the Year acceptance speech:

Waylon later reappeared at the CMA Awards much later in 1984 to debut his single “America”:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock