“It’s not ostentatious at all and just shows what a guy he was,” Mesa Cemetery coordinator Rick Fifield says. “There are some people here who want their name in lights.”
West Texas-bred, Jennings fashioned a six-decade music career that included performing in Buddy Holly’s band and fortuitously giving up his seat on Holly’s chartered plane that crashed in an Iowa cornfield in 1959. Jennings moved to Arizona in 1961, finding work as a disc jockey and musician, and eventually performing with his band, The Waylors, at JD’s nightclub in Tempe (see Arizona Country Roads, page 110).
Disdaining Nashville’s orchestral arrangement-addled “countrypolitan” sound of the early ‘70s, Jennings became known for his honky-tonkier “outlaw country” style. He went on to create many acclaimed recordings, and formed super group The Highwaymen with friends Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. Jennings, who was married to country singer Jessi Colter, died of complications from diabetes in 2002. He was buried in her family plot at Mesa Cemetery.
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