A Beat Apart

Willie and Waylon at Antone's, 1993
Willie and Waylon at Antone's, 1993 (Photo By John Carrico)

"I've always felt that blues, rock & roll, and country are just about a beat apart." Thus reads the introductory quote on www.waylon.com, the Web site for a good ol' boy who was so well known he didn't even need to use his full name in the URL. Littlefield, Texas, native Waylon Jennings, who passed away Feb. 13, was indeed a beat apart in many ways. There couldn't have been much more than a heartbeat between yes and no in the decision he made to give up his plane seat to J.P. Richardson on Feb. 3, 1959. As a result, Jennings outlived the Big Bopper -- and Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, for that matter -- by over 43 years. Born in 1937, Jennings lived to see Buddy Holly's Lubbock rock sound influence the Beatles into changing the world of pop music forever. He saw to it that some much-needed pocket money got put in the hands of Texas musicians and songwriters like Billy Joe Shaver. He made it to not only his own 60th birthday, but also to pal Willie Nelson's in 1993, where his surprise appearance and duet with the birthday boy on "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" at the formerly Drag-bound Antone's was one of the big moments of the evening. He saw Willie, Kris Kristofferson, and the boys make music and movies, and he even had a hand in that silly ol' Dukes of Hazzard. He lived to see country music go through infinite permutations, all the while staying atop the heap. He even lived to hobble onstage at Waterloo Park last March 31 for a final local gig (austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2001-04-06/music_live3.html ). And finally, amazingly enough for the boy who sat and cried that day over the news that his friends and bandmates had died in that horrible plane wreck, he made it all the way to the 21st century, where his name was on a Web site even as his music still played over truckstop speakers. A beat apart indeed.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

MORE Willie Nelson
Planting the Seed: A Cannabis Conversation
Planting the Seed: A Cannabis Conversation
The Luck Summit starts 4/26 and wraps on Willie Nelson’s birthday, 4/29

Jessi Cape, April 16, 2021

Six Great CBD Products to Try in Austin
Six Great CBD Products to Try in Austin
From wellness goals to stress relief, we’re loving these options

Jessi Cape, April 16, 2021

More Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

So Long, Slug
So Long, Slug

Ken Lieck, Dec. 20, 2002


Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, J. P. Richardson, Kris Kristofferson

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle