Country music legend Waylon Jennings died Wednesday (February 13) in his Arizona home after a long battle with diabetes. He was 64.
Jennings’ spokesperson told the Associated Press that the singer/guitarist with more than 60 albums to his credit passed away peacefully.
In December, the diabetes forced Jennings to have his left foot amputated. Even after the surgery, he reportedly vowed to persevere with a new album he hoped to have out this spring. His last offering was the live album Never Say Die: Live (2000), which Jennings recorded at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium with the Waymore Blues Band in January 2000.
He was best known for pioneering the outlaw country movement of the 1970s along with fellow banditos Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash. These artists rebelled against the pop-influenced and orchestrated country music coming out of Nashville at the time, favoring instead a stripped-down, back-to-basics approach while keeping in stride with country’s ethos of love and loneliness.
Jennings began his career in the late 1950s as a temporary bassist for the Crickets, Buddy Holly’s backing band. Following Holly’s death in a plane crash in 1959 — a flight Jennings was scheduled to be aboard — Jennings hit the country trail in 1960 with a band called the Waylors. After a few failed singles, he moved to Nashville in 1965 and fared better, scoring his first top 40 country hit with “Stop the World (And Let Me Off).” In 1978, he recorded the hit “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys,” a duet with Nelson.
Jennings was also responsible for narrating and singing the theme song for the ’80s television show “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October.