“If You Want Me To Play For Nothin’, Go Get That Girl” — Waylon Jennings Once Gave A Promoter The Deal Of A Lifetime

Waylon Jennings country music
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Sounds like a helluva deal for the promoter…

Waylon Jennings is an absolute legend, and his iconic collection of music speaks for itself (it’s one of my favorites of all time), but more than the music, his independent attitude and the way he lived his life… it’s just downright captivating.

He was interviewed years ago on Nashville Public Television in promotion of his book which was released in 1996, Waylon: An Autobiography. They dove deep into some of the elements that made Jennings a country music icon, and he also tells a few stories that personify his infamous outlaw spirit.

One of my favorite Waylon stories I’ve ever heard was one he told during this interview, about the time he saved Willie Nelson’s iconic Red Headed Stranger album from being tossed out by a record label executive.

He also told interviewer John Seigenthaler an absolutely hilarious tale about the time he convinced a woman’s husband to leave her alone with him after a show, because the husband needed to stand up to his wife in their marriage.

Needless to say, Waylon had ulterior motives for wanting the guy to leave him alone with this girl he’d spotted in the crowd, and her idiot husband happily obliged.

It was nothing out of the ordinary for Waylon to have women throwing themselves at him at a concert, like most musicians of his notoriety do, but this particular time, it was a two-way street:

“There was this one that’s in there, this is my claim to fame, for years I said that. This old boy, and this girl, well everybody, Wynn Stewart, Buck Owens, they were coming back stage and said, ‘Wait til you get out there, there’s a girl right in the front row, about four seats back, she is beautiful.’

And sure enough, when I got out there, I saw it. And I had just gotten a divorce. And there I was, and I was lookin’ at her, had this old boy sittin’ there right beside her.

So I come off the stage, and I said to the promoter, ‘Hey, if you want me to play for nothin’, you go get that girl.’ I mean, she was that good looking. Well, it seemed at the time, anyway.”

Sounds like a pretty good deal for the promoter, if you ask me, as I imagine the fee to book the country legend was pretty steep, and Waylon agrees:

“Sounded like a wonderful trade to me. About that time, around the corner she came, and she come over there and right behind her was that ol’ boy.

And so she says, ‘I want to talk to you, but he won’t let me, he keeps following me around.’ And I said, ‘Well, who are you?’, and he said, ‘I’m her husband.’ And I said, ‘Oh, really? I think that’s legal.’”

And if you think this (not so) small detail was going to deter Waylon, think again…

“Anyways, I said, ‘Just wait a minute.’ My mind is going 900 miles an hour. So I said to him, I said, ‘You’ve got a real problem with her, haven’t you?’ And he said ‘Yeah.’

I said, ‘You know what, I just left one myself, she was a blonde. And I took her home and you know what, as long as you chase her, she’s just gonna be doin’ all these things all the time.

She won’t care a thing about you. But, when you drop her, they can’t take that.’”

Waylon convinced him right then to give her a piece of his mind:

“He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘Just turn around here and say, I’m out of here.’ Well, I used a few other words. And so he said, ‘What’ll that be?’ And I said, ‘Well I left one just like that and she’s been calling me every night trying to get me to come back.’

And he said, ‘Really?” And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And so he said, ‘You think it will work?’ And I said, ‘I know it’ll work, man. Stand on your own, you gotta stand on your feet, you know, stand up to these people.’

So he turned around and made a few signs and talked, and said something to her, and just walked out like a giant.”

It’s so funny to hear him tell that story now, because you’d think anyone with a lick of common sense would know exactly what was going on during the whole exchange.

I mean, it probably would’ve ended the same way regardless, because I imagine it would be slightly difficult to turn down Waylon Jennings or keep your girl away from him, but still. The guy didn’t even try…

And you could probably see this coming a mile away, because as soon as the girl’s husband got of sight, Waylon and her did, too:

“The time he got around that corner, I said ‘Come on, girl. Let’s get out of here before he figures us out.”

The Aftermath

Possibly the best (and most unbelievable) part about this story came 10 years later, when Waylon was in Los Angeles for another show and saw the girl again. She didn’t think he’d even remember who she was:

“Now about 10 years later, I’m in L.A., at the Palomino Club and I went back, and there sat that girl. And she said, ‘You don’t remember me, do you?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I do. When did he figure it out?’”

And get this… the dumbass husband NEVER figured out what really went down:

“And she said he never did.

She said he went home, and he told her dad what he had done. And she said, ‘My dad called him big dummy, big dummy.’”

C’mon man… leave your wife with a superstar like Waylon Jennings? Are you gonna leave your sheep with the wolves too?

Not that it was the necessarily the right move from a moral standpoint on his part by any means, but if that isn’t an all-time classic Waylon story, I don’t know what is.

Listen to him tell the whole thing himself:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock