Waylon Jennings defined country music for a generation. His mixture of relatable country tunes touched millions of individuals around the world. His sturdy demeanor presented forth a man who others could seemingly trust. However, there was one incident that had happened in 1959 that would haunt the country legend for decades to come. It was a brush with death that he would escape on one fateful day. Though Waylon Jennings would pass away in 2002, this certain event took the life of famous singer Buddy Holly instead. “God almighty, for years I thought I caused it,” said Waylon Jennings in a CMT interview where he confessed his guilt for the incident.
The Plane He Nearly Missed
A freak accident would happen on February 23, 1959. Buddy Holly and three other people would die that day in a fateful plane crash. There was no indicator that the plane was going to malfunction that day. Unfortunately, country music would lose a legend that day from the crash. Waylon Jennings ended up not boarding the flight due to complications. He would, later on, find out what had happened and responded in absolute shock with the rest of the nation. Their beloved country singer had died before his time and broke the hearts of country fans across the world.
Jenning’s Relationship With Holly
Waylon Jennings would end up meeting Buddy Holly in a fated meet and greet between friends. Buddy Holly was looking for a bassist at the time and found Waylon Jennings to be a prospectful player. He tossed a bass guitar at Waylon Jennings and told him that he only had two weeks to memorize the material. Jennings was up for the challenge and was able to memorize the material fairly quickly. Their bond would grow strong and the two would collaborate well in the future.
" Waylon Jennings & Buddy Holly " Arcylic on Canvas by David Grizzle Art
Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings, Chantilly “Big Bopper” Lace, and a few others were on tour at the beginning of 1959. They were touring the countryside and in a van under harsh conditions. Many of the performers couldn’t get proper rest, hadn’t bathed properly in days and had piles of dirty clothes stacking up in the van they had rented. Finally, the group was able to find a charter plane to help them get to their destination from Clear Lake to Iowa. They thought that their troubles had been solved since they could travel more easily.
Chantilly “Big Bopper” had asked Waylon Jennings to take his seat on the plane since he wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to travel on the road any longer. Waylon obliged and forfeit his seat on the plane. Had Jennings stayed on that plane his fate would have been the same as Buddy Holly and the rest of the crew. As fate intervened, Jennings was spared that day and a national tragedy struck America and country music fans. Jennings would speak remorsefully about the day he was spared for years in interviews and other media outlets.
The Impact of Losing Buddy Holly
Waylon Jennings experienced a great loss by losing Buddy Holly. He was Jennings’ biggest inspiration musically and professionally. Jennings reported that he was a completely different person after the crash had occurred. He was struck by grief due to the thoughts he had that he should’ve been on that plane. He would channel a lot of this grief and remorse into his music over the years and create some of the best country music tracks that we have ever heard.