(Photo by Stephanie Chernikowski/Redferns)

That Time Little Richard Got Waylon Jennings Fired

It’s a great story!

The legendary Waylon Jennings was one of the first artists to add elements of rock and roll to country music. Waylon grew up in Texas listening to both country and rock, which was then emerging from the south’s fertile rhythm and blues scene. Famously, of course, Waylon would become the bass player for early Texas rocker Buddy Holly. But, before all that, Waylon was a young disc jockey at a radio station in Lubbock. 

Like most of the south at that time, Lubbock was racially segregated, and that included music. According to the website Saving Country Music, with few exceptions (like Ray Charles and Chuck Berry) Waylon’s station was to only play white artists. But Waylon had already fallen hard for all kinds of music, including black rhythm and blues, which he would often sneak off to go see performed live on “the other side of town”. 

Little Richard, 1956. Photo courtesy Getty Images

One of those artists Waylon especially loved was Little Richard. So, according to Saving Country Music, one night Waylon decided to play some Little Richard on his evening show. Waylon said the owner got so mad he came down to the station in person and cussed him out. Despite that, and showing his famous rebellious streak even back then, Waylon kept doing it. The rest of the story comes from his 1996 autobiography.

“Every time I played a Little Richard record the owner would come all the way back to the station from home. He wouldn’t even call. He’d just cuss me, until one night I played two of them in a row and he fired me.”

Saving Country Music has the whole story, including Waylon’s thoughts on blending the two styles of music. Read the whole article here 

 

 

 

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