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Waylon: An Autobiography Hardcover – September 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As one of the original "outlaw" country music stars, Jennings (b. 1937) has done his best to live up to the image of the hard-living honky-tonker who doesn't take crap from anybody. With the help of writer and rock guitarist Kaye, an older, calmer, drug-free Jennings now relates his life story, from his childhood in a dirt-floored house in West Texas, through his busted marriages and hard-partying days, to his current existence as happily married man (to country star Jessi Colter) and member of the Highwaymen, the country music supergroup made up of Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. The narration reads as if Jennings is relating stories over a beer. There are wonderfully evocative accounts of playing bass for Buddy Holly on his last tour?Jennings gave up his seat on the plane that crashed, killing Holly and the Big Bopper?and of Jennings and Johnny Cash sharing an apartment in Nashville in the early '60s. There's a little more than most readers need to know about Jennings's money troubles, sex life, personal feuds and various drug habits, and there are a few too many testimonials from younger performers (e.g., Billy Ray Cyrus telling Jennings, "You're like a god to me"). As a raconteur, Jennings is by turns self-deprecating and self-indulgent, but never less than entertaining, and almost always charming. This soulful book should interest most anyone curious about the life of a pop musician, and is likely to be essential reading for country fans. A selected discography of Jennings's recordings is included. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A country music star tells of his poor childhood and rise to stardom.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books, Inc.; First Edition edition (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446518654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446518659
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Mad Dog on June 23, 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
This book is as colorful as Waylon's best songs, with an earthy reality that you can smell, taste and feel in your gut. He didn't have an easy life and the contrast between the good times and the hard times is evident. The straightforward yet discriptive writing makes it easy to feel you were there when it happened. But it's never easy to bring about change, which is what his life has been all about. Some may think he brags too much but the truth is he has plenty to be proud of. I bought the book because I wanted to see how he described his time with Buddy Holly and the evolution of outlaw country and found it to be interesting, illuminating and at times, surprising. Along the way, I gained a whole new level of respect for Jessi and was reminded again how important it is for a man to have a strong woman.
It seems that all autobiographies drag at one point or another but that's just a minor issue here. If I could, I'd give this 4 and 1/2 stars, only because I'm stingy with my 5 star recommendations. My guess is that, if you like the man's music, you'll enjoy reading his story.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By duke66@iserv.net on March 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Waylon Jennings recorded an album in 1987, which he referred to as an "audiobiography". The album was "A Man Called Hoss", and it was, according to Waylon, "The story of my life, before somebody gets it wrong". It was a good idea, and a fine album. But "Waylon: An Autobiography" really gets the job done.
Waylon's fans have always known about his rich sense of humor and storytelling abilities. These are reflected amply through his music. This book, co-written by Lenny Kaye, reveals his inner depth, as well. His friendships, loves, heartbreaks, addictions and many triumphs. The greatest triumph of Waylon's life is arguably his long and loving marriage to Jessi Colter. Colter, a successful recording artist in her own right, wrote one of Waylon's biggest hits, "Storms Never Last". And Waylon should know. He's weathered many a storm, with the help of his friends, his family, and his soulmate, Jessi. Read the book, and hear it all in WAYLON's words.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Bassham on May 25, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you read only one book in your life, you HAVE to read this one. I read it several years ago and just recently read it again. I've read a lot of biographies, and this one is the most sincere and most entertaining one yet. This book shows just how much today's country singers should thank their lucky stars that Waylon Jennings EVER came along. You can tell how very much he loved Jessi and his kids. READ IT!!!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark O'Donnell on August 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading Keith Richards' LIFE sparked a long trend of music biographies that recently saw this book on top of the pile. I have to say, it really felt like a long heart-felt conversation with Waylon himself, which was a rarity in these types of books. So if you are a fan, this is a great read. Waylon's ability to tell a story, colored with humor and social honesty is part of why we love his music.

Another part I enjoyed was having such a detailed description of his times and surroundings. Seeing also his compatriots through his eyes, in particular Johnny Cash, Ritchie Albright, Buddy Holly, Kris Kristofferson, and Willy was amazing. His reverence for each is spoken in only the way Waylon could, in each he saw the spirit of Hank Sr. The stories of the all-night jamming with the Nashville underground of the 70's were as awesome as was Waylon's long trek to being countries best front men of all time. Give it a read and you'll find that his story telling, both compelling and honest, does not let a reader down.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J.L. Populist on January 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Waylon Jennings' autobiography stretches from his birth to 1996.
Mr. Jennings shares his childhood memories of a large family living in humble, small houses. Like a lot of country music stars of that era, he came from a poor family.
He wrote about some of his heroes of country music- Hank Williams, Sr. and Ernest Tubbs.

Most everyone that knows who Waylon Jennings was is familiar with his connection to Buddy Holly. Waylon doesn't disappoint the readers that are curious to read about life on the road with Buddy Holly. If not for Buddy Holly and his confidence in a young Waylon Jennings, he may not have the singing career later.

Another area of interest was Waylon's career as a disc jockey.

He doesn't gloss over the wide-spread use of pills in Nashville and his personal use of drugs during his career.

This book also details some of Waylon Jennings' experiences with the record labels and other management types in Nashville and on the road. He got ripped off like a lot of other music artists.

It was interesting to read Waylon's take on the difference between playing in a studio vs. playing live in a honky-tonk and his preference for playing live.

He shared his view of the "Nashville Sound" and the CMA.
On the Nashville Sound he wrote this on page 176-
"Nashville was just too insular, too caught up in itself."
The reader gets a first-hand glimpse at why Mr. Jennings became a part of "Outlaw Country".

Some of his shared experiences with his contemporaries were very humorous.
Overall, this is a good autobiography of a true country rebel who played a part in changing country music and the monumental role his wife Jessi played in his overcoming years of drug addiction.
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