He’s of course known as one of the pioneers of the country outlaw movement in the 1970’s, and left a legacy and catalog of music that no one else will ever come close to.
The Texas native definitely had a reputation for doing things his own way, and he even “stormed out” of the 1970 CMA Awards because producers were running low on time and wanted to cut his performance short.
From that point on, they had a very complicated relationship, and he admitted before that decades ago, the powers-that-be at the Country Music Association actually told him that he’d “never” get into the Country Music Hall of Fame (that goes to show what they really know, but I digress…).
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.
Around the time of his inevitable, and very deserved, 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 lifetime achievement, and huge honor, saying that it meant:
“Absolutely nothing, if you want to know the truth about it.”
In another all-time outlaw move, to double down on that statement, 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, explaining simply:
“I let one of my sons go there and accept it. I think it meant something to my kids, and that’s enough.”
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.”
One of the realest, most talented artists to ever do it, to put it mildly.
And I don’t think he was trying to necessarily be rude to the Hall of Fame specifically, but Waylon was always more concerned with the purity of the music, and the people who listened to him, rather than anything else.
His actions throughout his career certainly back that theory up, too. God bless him for it… they simply don’t ’em like that anymore.
Turn it up…
“I’m a Ramblin Man”
Waylon Jennings Roasted The Hell Outta Willie Nelson For People Thinking He Was An “Outlaw”
Willie Nelsonhas some pretty wild stories to his name from his younger years out on the road, many of which are almost too unbelievable to make up.
From his (alleged) 9-hour sex marathon, to the true story of how he got his nickname “Shotgun Willie,” to the time his ex-wife tied him up and beat him with a broom, he’s lived a true outlaw life that you usually only read about in books.
And of course Willie, along with his friend Waylon Jennings, were pioneers of the outlaw country movement in the 1970s.
But in a 1988 interview with SPIN, Waylon admitted that the outlaw movement they were so influential in was more about marketing than anything else:
“You know what, let’s get all that up front, the way it really was. That was to merchandise and sell records. I remember when they were gonna call that album ‘The Outlaws,’ and I had been called that before because I had an album out called ‘Ladies Love Outlaws.’
But I tell you, I argued against that because there was a group called the ‘Outlaws.’ A great group, and we probably sold some records on the strength of people thinkin’ it was that group, because it says ‘Wanted: The Outlaws.’
I argued with them about it until we were about an inch away from them changing their minds, but it did work out pretty good.”
While I think there’s quite a few stories about him that suggest otherwise (like the time he rode Buddy Holly’s motorcycle around in his hotel room, and once a ton of cocaine down the toilet during a DEA raid at the studio), he insists there honestly wasn’t much else to it.
Of course, he always had such a unique way of putting things, and used his good friend Willie Nelson as an example of the reality of what their lives really were in the music industry:
“No. No big story behind it.
About the closest thing that Willie ever did to bein’ an outlaw is that he probably came to town and double-parked on Music Row.”
Hysterical… what I would give to have one beer with Waylon and just shoot the shit about life.
And when the interviewer told Waylon he actually had a “Willie for President” bumper sticker on his car, Waylon told him that’s the last person he should be voting for:
“You do? Well burn that thing. If there’s anything you don’t want, Hoss, is Willie Nelson to be president.
I mean, you don’t even want him to be Secretary of… you don’t even want him to be dogcatcher.”
They just don’t make ’em like Waylon these days.
And during a performance of “Good Hearted Woman,” his 1971 #1 hit with Willie, Waylon sarcastically opened by saying the same thing about how they fought the system by double-parking on Music Row:
“Well, I think it means fight the system, you know? Me and Willie used to come to town and double-park on Music Row.”
I mean, parking tickets can be a real bitch, especially in a city with limited parking like Nashville, so more power to ’em…
Clearly though, they did a whole lot more than that, and their authentic music has stood the test of time and reached across generations of music fans.
It’s crazy how just telling the truth is the most rebellious thing you can even still do in Nashville.
In all seriousness, I could watch this all damn day: