How Did Waylon Jennings Die, What Is His Legacy and Who Are His Family Members?

Waylon Jennings is a country music icon whose legacy still speaks volumes to date. Having been inclined towards music since he was eight years old, Jennings put his career to a get-go by working as a disc jockey in different radio stations situated in Texas. In the early 1960s, he established his first musical band called, The Waylors, and then began making waves in the outlaw country music by the 1970s, which led to his career breakthrough. The skilled songwriter had tremendous success during that time which continued for over a decade.

His career later took a downturn as a result of his unhealthy lifestyles which deteriorated his health, thereby, leading to his death. Find out all that you should know about Waylon’s lie and death below.

A Detailed Look Into The Cause Of Waylon Jennings’ Death

The multi-award-winning singer and songwriter became a household name in America in the 1970s when he invented the outlaw country music genre. He encountered unprecedented success which sadly became instrumental to his drug addiction. The sudden departure of his close pal and former bandmate, Buddy Holly also helped fuel his addiction to drugs.

Prior to the plane crash that took the life of the rock star, the pair made a jest of one another as Holly jokingly said to Jennings that he hopes the bus he wanted to board after given up his seat on the plane for J. P Richardson, would freeze up. Waylon Jennings then replied to him that he hopes the plane he just boarded crashes.

Although he took the whole event as a joke, Jennings felt guilty for the death of his close friend which left him devastated as he mourned him. He then began taking amphetamines in order to get himself out of the situation. A few years down the line, the legendary musician got addicted to cocaine.

The situation eventually got out of hand, to the extent that he was apprehended by the Drug Enforcement Agents in 1977 for having cocaine in his possession which he intended to distribute. He was later released and the charges leveled against him were dropped as they couldn’t find evidence to nail him with. Later in the early 1980s when Waylon Jennings was at the peak of his career, his drug addiction got escalated.

During that time, he wasted his income on an incessant drug habit that drained him of $1500 daily. Soon after, he went bankrupt and was owning about $2.5 million. Following his drug struggles, the rock icon entered a rehabilitation center where he got cleaned up in 1984. He later stated that his son, Shooter inspired him into taking such a bold step.

Despite quitting his drug habit, Waylon Jennings continued smoking excessively as he was finishing up to six-packs of cigarettes on a daily basis until 1988 when he ended the habit. Having led such pernicious lifestyles for decades, his health condition got deteriorated leading to a heart bypass surgery in the same year he stopped smoking. He also became diabetic, and in the year 2000, his state of health worsened as he went under the knife for an improvement of his leg circulation.

Still not making headway in the attempt to get Jennings life back on track, one of his feet was amputated in the following year. Then in February 2002, the eminent music artist succumbed to diabetic complications while asleep. He was laid to rest in a cemetery situated in the city of Mesa, Arizona.

His Music Career And Influence On Country Music

Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter
Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter

Characterized by his signature look of long hair and beard accompanied with a black leather vest and black hat, Waylon Jennings brought people of different races together through the power of his music. His live performances were often graced by a vast number of attendees as he moved on to establish one of the most thriving careers in the history of country music.

He invented the outlaw country music genre through his collaboration with Tompall Glaser, Willie Nelson and Jessi Colter in the 1970s when they released a commercially successful album, ‘Wanted! The Outlaw’ which sold up to a million units. Throughout his musical career, Waylon Jennings dropped 45 studio albums, 28 compilation albums, 5 live albums, and 16 collaborations.

He recorded an album sales of over 20 million worldwide as he had incredible career success in the 1970s and 80s when most of his songs and albums were all-kill on several music charts. Some of his critically and commercially successful songs and albums include ‘Music Man’, ‘Waylon Live’, ‘Greatest Hit’, ‘Waylon and Willie’, ‘Lonesome’, ‘WWII’, ‘Take It to the Limit’, ‘Will the Wolf Survive’, ‘Leather and Lace’, among others.

More so, the country-rock legend was the first rock artist to release a platinum-certified album in the history of country music. As a result of his contributions, he was inaugurated into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Similarly, in 2012, after his demise, he was honored by the Academy of Country Music with the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award. His other achievements include the Lifetime Achievement Award by Nashville Songwriters’ Festival, Induction into Guitar Center’s RockWalk and Texas Country Music Hall of Fame as well.

Interestingly, after Waylon Jennings demise, his family has worked effortlessly to keep his legacy alive especially his son, Shooter Jennings who is following in the footsteps of his father. They have released several posthumous albums in the memory of the late music artist. They include ‘Waylon Forever’ (2008), ‘Waylon: The Music Inside’ (2012), ‘Goin’ Down Rockin: The Last Recordings’ (2012).

What Do We Know About Waylon Jennings’ Wives And Children?

Waylon Jennings walked the lane of matrimony four good times while he was alive. He entered his first marriage at the age of eighteen with Maxine Caroll Lawrence. Following their union in 1956, the duo expanded their small circle with the arrival of their first child, Terry Vance (born in January 1957). Next came a daughter named Julie Rae (born in August 1958). Two years later, they welcomed Buddy Dean, followed by the birth of Deana.

After staying married for more than five years, the former couple got separated. Later in 1962 Jenning tied the knot with Lyne Jones with whom he became adoptive parents to a daughter called Tomi Lynne. He then entered into matrimony for the third time with Barbara Eliza Rood in 1967. But just like the others, the union didn’t last long.

He finally settled down with the love of his life, Jessi Colter, a country music artist in October 1969. Together they welcomed a son called Waylon Albright known professionally as Shooter Jennings, who was born on 19th May 1979. He has built a somewhat successful career in outlaw country music and has recorded not less than eight studio albums. The young Waylon is a proud father of two children whom he shared with his long-term ex-girlfriend, Drea de Matteo, an actress. He later exchanged marital vows in June 2013 with Misty Brooke Swain.

Meanwhile, Waylon Jennings’ heartthrob, Jessi Colter’s birthname is Mirriam Jonhson. She hails from Phoenix, Arizona, and her birthdate is recorded as 25th May 1943. Having been good at playing the piano at the age of eleven, Jessi took a special interest in music which she later turned into a career. She garnered huge recognition in 1975 when she dropped her hit song ‘I’m Not Lisa’.

She released her first publication in April 2017, an autobiography entitled “An Outlaw and a Lady: A Memoir of Music, Life with Waylon, and the Faith That Brought Me Home”. Prior to becoming man and wife with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter married eminent instrumentalist, Duane Eddy in 1961. She shared one daughter named Jennifer with her ex-husband.

Waylon Jennings
Waylon Jennings sons; Terry (L), Buddy (M) and Shooter (R)

It’s quite saddening that half of Waylon Jennings kids have passed on including two of his daughters. His eldest daughter, Julia Rae Jennings-Burdette died on 3rd October 2014. Prior to her death, she worked as a DJ at WHOG located in Fernandina Beach, Florida, and equally as a farmer. Later in the same year, tragedy struck again in Jennings family as Deana Jennings passed away.

Then in January 2019, the songwriter’s eldest son, Terry Vance Jennings who also contributed a lot in the music industry, passed away. He worked as a technician and stage manager for the drummer, Richie Albright before he established a consulting, management and publishing company called, Korean Music Group LLC.

Furthermore, Waylon Jennings family survived another scare in June 2019 when Buddy Jennings who was named after Buddy Holly, underwent a heart transplant at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Thankfully, the transplant was successful and he has fully recuperated.

Uwa Echebiri
Uwa Echebiri
Uwa has extensive professional writing experience including report and technical writing, product reviews, informational and persuasive articles, creative and content writing on nearly any topic. As a lifelong movie buff, Uwa is either bingeing on new movies during leisure, or giving someone a whopping on the latest FIFA edition


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