WAYLON JENNINGS - IN MEMORIAM

(pic: Robert Johnson)

It was with deep sadness that I learnt of the passing of one of my personal heroes, the legendary Waylon Jennings, who died peacefully at his home in Chandler, Arizona on 13th February, after a long battle with diabetes-related illnesses. He was just 64.

Having the good fortune, in 1959 as a member of Buddy Holly's band, to have given up his seat on the plane to The Big Bopper, which took the lives of Bopper, Holly and Richie Valens, Jennings went onto become one of the true greats of Country music.

During my five years with RCA UK, I felt privileged to have been part of the team that ensured that Waylon's reputation was enhanced in Britain. Songs like "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way", "Good Hearted Woman", "Luckenbach, Texas" and "Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" gained extensive airplay in the Seventies, on mainstream pop programmes on BBC Radio One, Capital Radio and other local commercial stations. DJs like Johnnie Walker, Roger Scott and Dave Cash and producers like Tim Blackmore, Mike Hawkes and Aidan Day ensured that listeners could hear and learn to appreciate the music of Waylon Jennings.

Jennings' appearances were enthralling, and I will long cherish the memory of the last times I saw him play, at London's Hammersmith Odeon in his own show, and at Wembley Arena as part of The Highwaymen, with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson.