Waylon Jennings died ten years ago of complications from diabetes.

The last time I saw Waylon Jennings was in 1994. I was rehabbing in Baptist Hospital in Nashville after having suffered a heart attack and bypass surgery Labor Day weekend. On the Friday afterwards, George Jones was admitted to Baptist for chest pains. He, too, underwent bypass – only he did not have a heart attack first.

As it turned out, George and I were in the same rehab classes and Waylon would drive George to the class and hang out while George rode a stationery bike. Waylon and I chatted each day about Lubbock and Littlefield, the two Texas towns where we were born, the Corbins – a family that owned the radio station we both worked at – and a few other pleasantries just to pass the time.
After a couple of weeks, George didn’t come back anymore. Later I found out he gave up, thinking the work outs were too much for him. I will give him the benefit of a doubt because the veins to patch his arteries were taken from his legs. That takes a long time to recover. Mine was more fortunate. The surgeons were able to use an artery that was nearby and made the bypass with it. Thus, I didn’t get to see Waylon after that.

The first time I met him was at KLLL, in Lubbock, Texas, my home town and starting in 1963, the first Country station I worked at. Waylon had worked at KLLL as a deejay. In fact, I strongly suggest you visit this website and read Sky Corbin’s account of Waylon working for him at the radio station and later almost being with Buddy Holly in the fatal crash in Iowa in 1959. Sky was owner-manager of KLLL and my first mentor.

Waylon was on his way to Nashville to record for RCA. A friend of his and another former KLLL deejay, Don Bowman, had a contract with RCA as a comedian and was doing well. Don had recommended Chet Atkins listen to Waylon. He did and signed him.

In 1965, after his early successes, Waylon came back to Lubbock and was the headliner for KLLL’s Anniversary Party.


Another occasion for Waylon and me was a night when I didn’t see him, just spoke on the phone. Waylon’s wife and country singer Jessi Colter was in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. I believe it was 1976. I attended a dinner party for her and seated across the table where we were able to talk for quite a while. I told her my Waylon stories and she told me some of hers. She left the table at one point and upon her return told me someone wanted to speak with me on the phone. It was Waylon. At the time he was in Albuquerque appearing in concert that night. I was always glad he took time to ask to speak with me personally that night. Truth be known, I think he just wanted to make sure we kept playing her records in Louisville.

After his death I wrote Jessi expressing my sorrow and reminding her of the night she was so kind to me. I didn’t hear back but under the circumstances didn’t expect to.

So, here’s to you Waylon Jennings, I have always told people I replaced the guy who replaced you at KLLL. But, no one could replace you.


More From WBKR-FM