February 13, 2002 – Waylon Arnold Jennings was born June 15th 1937. Jennings began playing guitar at 8 and began performing at 12 on KVOW radio. His first band was The Texas Longhorns. Jennings worked as a D.J. on KVOW, KDAV, KYTI, and KLLL. In 1958, Buddy Holly arranged Jennings’s first recording session, of “Jole Blon” and “When Sin Stops (Love Begins)”. Holly hired him to play bass.
He rose to early prominence as a bassist for Buddy Holly following the break-up of The Crickets. He escaped death in the February 3, 1959, plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, when he gave up his seat to Richardson who had been sick with the flu.In Clear Lake, Iowa, Jennings gave up his seat on the ill-fated flight that crashed and killed Holly, J. P. Richardson, Ritchie Valens, and pilot Roger Peterson.
The day of the flight was later known as The Day the Music Died. Jennings then worked as a D.J. in Coolidge, Arizona, and Phoenix. He formed a rockabilly club band, The Waylors. He recorded for independent label Trend Records and A&M Records, before succeeding with RCA Victor after achieving creative control.
By the 1970s, he had become associated with so-called “outlaws,” an informal group of musicians who worked outside of the Nashville corporate scene. A series of duet albums with Willie Nelson in the late ’70s culminated in the 1978 crossover hit, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”
In 1979, he recorded the theme song for the hit television show The Dukes of Hazzard, and also served as the narrator, “The Balladeer“, for all seven seasons of the show. He continued to be active in the recording industry, forming the group The Highwaymen with Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson.
Waylon released his last solo studio album in 1998. In 2001, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
He died in his sleep from diabetic complications on 13 February, 2002 at the age of 64.