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Country’s Greatest Love Stories: Waylon Jennings + Jessi Colter

Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter
Ebet Roberts / Redferns, Getty Images

There’s nothing like the love of a good woman to help an outlaw tame his demons. With wife Jessi Colter at his side, Waylon Jennings was able to overcome his addictions and lead a loving, fulfilled life until his death on February 13, 2002. Kris Kristofferson once described their marriage as a “beautiful love affair.”

A Phoenix native, Jessi was first married to rockabilly guitar legend Duane Eddy. After she and Eddy divorced, she met Jennings and they married on October 26, 1969 in the Phoenix church where her mother served as the minister. The iconic couple became key figures in country music’s outlaw movement. In 1976, ‘Wanted! The Outlaws’ featuring Jennings, Colter, Willie Nelson and Tompall Glaser, became the first Nashville album to sell a million copies, but the couple’s greatest collaboration was their son, Shooter, born May 19, 1979.

Jennings had several failed marriages before Colter–and once he found his soulmate, he stood by her through thick and thin–and she by him. “I was his fourth wife, and he had tried with these different women that didn’t really understand him,” she tells CMT with a laugh. “I just loved him. … I loved him! He really entertained me. He made me laugh. He made me feel loved. He inspired me.”

“He is missed,” she adds. “There will never be another one like him. He gave me a great life and so many people so many hours of happiness. He played for the people. I loved him dearly.” Jennings and Colter will always be remembered as one of country’s greatest love stories.

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