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Waylon Jennings

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Littlefield TX, United States (1937 – 2002)

Waylon Arnold Jennings (born June 15, 1937 in Littlefield, Texas, died February 13, 2002 in Chandler, Arizona), was an American country music , musician, and actor. A self-taught guitar player, he rose to prominence as a bass player 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 The Big Bopper when he gave up his seat to the latter. 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 1970s culminated in the 1978 crossover hit, “Mamas 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 Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. Jennings released his last solo studio album in 1998. In 2001, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Jennings was born in Littlefield, Texas, the son of Lorene Beatrice (née Shipley) and William Alvin Jennings. When Waylon was eight, his father taught him how to play guitar, and Waylon formed his first band two years later. During his time working as a DJ, he befriended Buddy Holly. The two were inspired by the music of the Mayfield Brothers of West Texas, Smokey Mayfield, Herbert Mayfield, and Edd Mayfield. When he was twenty-one, Jennings was tapped by Holly to play bass in Holly’s new band on a tour through the Midwest in early 1959.

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