'An Outlaw And A Lady': How Jessi Colter Stood By Her Man, Waylon Jennings, And Saved Him From Addiction
No marriage is ever smooth-sailing. There will be ups and downs and sometimes, even those with the best of intentions towards one another often find it difficult to hold on through it all. That's why it's just so inspiring to celebrate the ones that do.
"I didn't aim at anything except good music." - Waylon Jennings
The legendary Waylon Jennings
He was a talented country musician whose songs have uplifted and entertained many. He passed away on February 13, 2002, due to complication from diabetes, a condition he had battled with for years.
He was married to fellow singer Jessi Colter. Even though the pair nearly got divorced due to his problems with cocaine addiction, Jessi chose to stand by his side until the very end.
"Jessi is a great person. She really is. She's been a friend to me all through all my bad times, and she's understood what I was doing." - Waylon Jennings.
Waylon and Jessi: Love, addiction, and music
The couple got married in 1969. At the time, Waylon was getting high on prescription amphetamines. However, by the late 70s, he had a strong cocaine addiction. According to reports, he would spend over a thousand dollars daily on the stuff. This careless and dangerous spending soon had a massive effect on his finances. Consequently, he was over $2.5 million in personal debt.
Jessi's soon-to-be-released autobiography, titled An Outlaw and a Lady, gave more insight into how life was like at the time. She once expressed her complete and unconditional love for Waylon in an interview with CMT:
I just loved him. ... I loved him! He really entertained me. He made me laugh. He made me feel loved. He inspired me.
Before meeting Jessi, Waylon was married several times, but when he found her, he knew she was the one. And it was a good thing he chose such a strong and dedicated woman because when he needed her, she was there.
Even though the addiction did a number on the marriage, Jessi helped her husband fight his demons. Finally, in 1984, he quit cocaine and by 1988, he stopped smoking completely. He once said the birth of his son, Shooter Jennings, was the motivation behind his decision.
"I was king of the mountain for a long time, well, I don't want that no more. I like to perform every once in a while for people who want to see me." - Waylon Jennings
According to his other son, Terry, Waylon became a changed man after he quit cocaine and smoking. "I couldn’t ask for a better dad," he said.
Unfortunately, the damage he had done to his health for many years ultimately led to his death. In 1988, he had to undergo triple heart bypass surgery after he experienced some chest pains. His diabetes worsened as the years went by and by 2000, his mobility had become any better. His left foot was amputated in 2001. Eventually, a few months later, he died in his sleep.
"If some good is done to you, you should pass it on." - Waylon Jennings.
He was a great musician and a fantastic entertainer. But above all, he was a man who was brave enough to turn his life around for his family.