Country Legend Waylon Jennings Dies

ByABC News
February 14, 2002, 6:05 AM

Feb. 14 -- He was a Highwayman, Outlaw and a Cricket.

Country music lost one of its honky-tonk heroes Wednesday, when Waylon Jennings succumbed to diabetes-related illnesses. He is said to have died peacefully, at home.

He was 64.

"Waylon was a towering figure in country music in a lot of ways," said Neil Pond, editor of Country Music and Country Weekly magazines. "Knowing that there'll be no more music coming from Waylon Jennings is a sad thing."

A Personification of the Outlaw

Jennings teamed up with fellow "outlaw" legends Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson to record and tour as The Highwaymen. He was probably the least known member of the group outside country music circles, but to fans, he personified the outlaw movement.

In fact, his list of "refused tos" and "rejecteds" is nearly as long as his accomplishments: Jennings rejected standardized country pop for the hard-drinking "honky-tonk" music of country's roots, refused to appear on the Grand Ole Opry when it banned drums and has rejected many establishment awards and honors.

His condemnation of the Nashville sound was spelled out in his hit song, "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?"

Jennings didn't even attend his induction last year into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Officially, he was sick. But the whispers said Jennings felt slighted that the hall had waited so long to recognize him.

"Waylon was the one living entertainer that refused to show up at his Hall of Fame induction in Nashville," said Pond. "Thumbing his nose, really, at that honor as too little too late."

In fact, Jennings seldom attended awards shows, and as a certified outlaw often declined to appear

Friends Lament a Country Great

"Waylon was a dear friend, one of the very best of 35 years. I'll miss him immensely," Cash told The Associated Press.

"He was his own man," fellow country legend Glen Campbell lamented to KTVK in Phoenix. "He was a great writer. He was a great showman... You know, he was incredible."