On This Date: ‘Wanted! The Outlaws’ Was Topping The Country Albums Chart In 1976

Wanted the outlaws country music
RCA Records/Youtube

The pinnacle of the country outlaw movement.

On this date in 1976, Wanted! The Outlaws was topping the #1 on the U.S. Country albums chart. And while it’s iconic for not only the incredible music included on the tracklist, it’s the first country album to sell a million copies and be certified Platinum.

Even though the genre had already produced iconic artists like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and Bill Anderson, none of them had been able to crack the elusive million in sales for a single record, and the four legends in Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser pulled off the impressive feat.

And actually, a lot of the songs had already been recorded and were deep cuts that were kind of tossed to the side by RCA Records, and Willie was with Columbia at the time. Producer Jerry Bradley wanted Willie and Waylon collaborate for a full-length album, and according to the book Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville, he explained his thought process:

“Waylon was selling, if we were lucky, two hundred and fifty thousand albums.

Willie comes out with ‘Red Headed Stranger’ and that took off and sold a million records. Jessi Colter put out ‘I’m Not Lisa’ on Capitol. That damn thing sold half a million, or a million, set our butt on fire.

We’re sitting over there, trying to sell two hundred and fifty thousand records, and we’re still struggling.”

He was clearly onto something in getting all four of them together on a project, and even though Waylon and Willie have both spoken publicly in the past about how the whole “outlaw” title was purely a marketing move, it really worked.

And it damn sure sold a lot of records…

The iconic album stayed at #1 on the country albums chart for six weeks, and of course, included hits like “Suspicious Minds” and “Good Hearted Woman,” in addition to “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys,” “Me and Paul,” “Yesterday’s Wine” and more.

Almost 50 years later, Wanted! The Outlaws still remains an integral and genre-defining (and shaping) album in country music, and will be considered a standard for decades to come.

I know what I’ll be listening to for the rest of the day…

“My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”

“Suspicious Minds”

“Good Hearted Woman”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock