Waylon Jennings Greets Hall Induction With a Shrug

Waylon Jennings says joining the Country Music Hall of Fame last week means “absolutely nothing, if you want to know the truth about it.”

He spoke with CMT News Wednesday morning (Oct. 10) prior to the unveiling of his caricature at The Palm Restaurant in Nashville.

When 12 new members were inducted into the Hall of Fame at a special dinner on Thursday (Oct. 4), Jennings chose to sit out the event, sending his son, Buddy Jennings, to accept the honor on his behalf.

Fellow inductee Sam Phillips, speaking at the banquet, expressed regret at Jennings’ absence. “Waylon is like me, in many ways,” he said. “He is, in his own mind … a rebel with a cause. … It don’t mean you’re mad at a damn soul, but now, Waylon can get mad, you know?”

Jennings and the Country Music Association — the body that oversees election to the Hall of Fame — have had a prickly relationship through the years, and Jennings long has maintained that he’d rather play his music than accept awards for it.

“They told me years ago I’d never be in [the Hall of Fame], which was all right with me,” Jennings said Wednesday. “I think you need to play your music and do the best you can with that, and that’s what you’ll be remembered for.”

In his autobiograpy, Jennings recalls being asked to perform an abbreviated version of his hit, “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line,” at a CMA awards show.

“I said, ‘Why don’t I just dance across the stage and grin? Maybe do one line. That’ll give you a lot of time.’”

Show producers gave him an ultimatum — do the song their way or leave. “They said, ‘We don’t need you,’” Jennings writes. “I decided that was true, and I left.”

Though he’s not spoiling for a fight now, Jennings won’t back down, either. “I don’t want any more trouble. I’ve had trouble with them all through these years,” he said. “I’m not a member of the CMA.”

He’s not mad or bitter, Jennings added, and he could have lived without the honor had it not come his way.

“I let one of my sons go there and accept it,” he said. “I think it meant something to my kids, and that’s enough.”

Bill Conger and Michael Gray contributed to this story.