Waylon Arnold Jennings (June 15, 1937 – February 13, 2002) was a respected and influential American country music singer and musician. A self-taught guitar player, he rose to prominence as a bass player for Buddy Holly following the break-up of The Crickets. He escaped death in the February 3, 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson when he gave up his seat to Big Bopper.
After a brief performing and recording career in Phoenix, Arizona he moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he did not fit in with the tightly organized music industry in that city. By the 1970s, he had become associated with "Outlaw" country music, an informal group of musicians that worked outside of the Nashville corporate scene and included Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. A series of duet albums with Nelson in the late 1970s culminated in the 1978 crossover hit "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys". In 1979 he recorded the theme song for the hit television show The Dukes of Hazzard, and also served as the narrator ("The Balladeer") for all seven seasons of the show.
Jennings had a history of substance abuse, though he was clean by the mid-1980s. He continued to be active in the recording industry, forming the group The Highwaymen with fellow "Outlaws" Nelson, Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. Jennings released his last solo studio album in 1998. In 2001, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.