- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2002

Waylon Jennings, one of country music's most famous "outlaw" singers, died yesterday from complications of diabetes. He was 64.
The Texas native, who got his first big break in the music business as bass guitarist for 1950s rock 'n' roll legend Buddy Holly, topped the country charts with his 1968 hit "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line."
Falling out with the Nashville music establishment, Mr. Jennings then joined other rebellious country musicians in the 1970s to form the "outlaw" movement, scoring hits with "Luckenbach, Texas," and teaming up with Willie Nelson on the Grammy-winning "Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" in 1978.
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay looked crestfallen when he heard the news of Mr. Jennings' death yesterday on Capitol Hill.
"That's a huge loss," the Texas Republican said. "Who's going to write those wonderful words? Who's going to talk about whiskey and women?"
Born in the West Texas town of Littlefield during the Great Depression, Mr. Jennings formed his first band at age 12 and dropped out of school at 16 to perform music full time.
In 1955, Mr. Jennings met Buddy Holly, who acted as a mentor to the younger musician, producing his first record.
Mr. Jennings escaped one of rock music's biggest tragedies. On Feb. 3, 1959, he was touring as bass player for Holly when the singer chartered a plane after a performance in Clear Lake, Iowa.
The plane didn't have enough seats for all the musicians on the tour, and Mr. Jennings gave up his seat to singer J.P. "the Big Bopper" Richardson. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing Holly, Richardson, and singer Richie Valens.
"It was such a shame, such a waste of talent, him dying so young," Mr. Jennings said in a 1998 interview. Holly "convinced me to stay true to my music," he said.
Mr. Jennings became a country star in the late 1960s, eventually recording 16 No. 1 country singles. Last fall, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Mr. Jennings narrated and sang the theme song for "The Dukes of Hazzard," a popular TV show that aired from 1979 to 1985 about the adventures of two "good ol' boys."
In 1984, Mr. Jennings kicked a $100,000-a-year cocaine habit, but years of hard living took their toll: He suffered a heart attack in 1988, a stroke in 1992 and had his left foot amputated last December, a complication of diabetes.
David Boyer contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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