by Terry Jennings
by David Thomas
In a signed copy of his autobiography, Waylon Jennings penned a personal note to his son, Terry Jennings, ending it with the words, “I did my best. Now it’s your turn.” It is with this spirit in mind that Terry has finished telling the true story of his father’s remarkable, unvarnished life.
Born when Waylon was a mere nineteen years old, Terry had an intimate view of his father’s antics, as the two shared an incredibly close relationship. More like brothers than a father and son, by the time Terry was thirteen he was a regular on the road, smoking marijuana with his dad and observing the wild ways that laid the foundation of the infamous country-music sensation, “The Outlaws.”
When it came to “The Outlaws,” Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson were active players in the debauchery, as Waylon led a reckless lifestyle centered around his music, hard drugs, and women. Critical acclaim, sold-out tours and mob-like pandemonium were unfortunately overshadowed by darker personal challenges he faced including multiple divorces, crippling debt, and severe depression stemming from his best friend Buddy Holly’s premature death.
Terry Jennings witnessed all of the above and was a willing participant. As he followed his father on the road he began working with the crew, managing Waylon’s career and becoming his closest confidante. Despite their closenes, though, the rules of the road ultimately prevailed. Eventually Terry found himself nursing a drug habit that eclipsed his father’s; more than once Waylon even stole Terry’s girlfriends.
While it is no secret that Waylon was no saint, this is an honest look at a loving and complicated father-son relationship that will resonate for generations of country music fans.