Today would have been Waylon Jennings‘ 75th birthday. Even though Waylon passed away at the age of 64, many country music singers and fans are coming together for a nationwide series of Waylon Birthday Bashes.
Kentucky native Billy Ray Cyrus, along with Keith Urban, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Shooter Jennings, and more are urging millions of Waylon Jennings fans to come together for the bashes. They are among the members of the new National Honorary Committee for The Waylon Fund for Diabetes Research. All contributions to the fund go to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), one of the nation’s premier non-profit biomedical research institutes. The fund helps TGen to quickly translate laboratory discoveries into new ways to diagnose and treat diabetes, which affects nearly 26 million Americans.
Waylon’s “kicking down the doors” style of music will infuse the events, which feature regional and national acts, including Shooter Jennings, Tommy Jennings, and the Rowdy Johnson Band.
In a suburb of Phoenix, the headquarters of TGen, a Waylon Birthday Bash is planned June 17 at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe. This bash features “DJ Dana” Armstrong, founder of Valley Fever Country Night, and several local live-music acts: Ray Lawrence Jr., Tony Martinez, James Parks, Steve Larson and Hans Olson. Also appearing from Nashville is J.P. Harris and The Tough Choices.
On June 15, Waylon Birthday Bashes will take place at The Wayland in New York, NY, Firehouse Saloon in Houston, TX, and High Dive in Seattle, WA.
On June 15-16, there will be a two-day event, featuring Waylon’s son Shooter Jennings, with a festival in Whiteface, TX, which is near Waylon’s hometown of Littlefield.
On June 17, Richie Albright, Waylon’s long-time drummer and co-producer, and Waymore’s Outlaws will be at Robert’s Western World in Nashville, TN. There will also be a birthday bash at Valley Fever Country Night at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe, AZ.
Birthday bashes will be promoted by Waylon Fund Partners — which includes Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), Music News Nashville (MNN), Sony Music, Universal Music Publishing Group, Country Music Nation (CMN), and the Ernest Tubb Records Shops — with messages expected to reach more than 1 million Waylon fans.
Waylon Birthday Bashes originated from everyday Waylon fans who loved his music and his “Outlaw” genre, which challenged the Nashville establishment, spearheaded crossover appeal and re-popularized country music.
In the same spirit as the “Outlaw” movement, The Waylon Fund enables TGen scientists to challenge conventional ideas and discover novel ways of attacking diabetes.
Working with Waylon’s widow, Jessi Colter, and their son, Shooter Jennings, TGen established The Waylon Fund in October 2011. Waylon, who lived much of his storied career in Arizona, died in 2002 at age 64 from complications of diabetes. He is buried in Mesa, Ariz.
TGen’s research into diabetes will allow physicians to more accurately predict who has the greatest risk of developing both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, while also developing better strategies for identifying and managing many aspects of the disease.
Dr. Johanna DiStefano, Director of TGen’s Diabetes, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases Division, leads a team of scientists working in five areas of research: diabetes and heart disease, diabetic nephropathy, diabetes and obesity, diabetes and liver disease, and diabetes and individualized treatment strategies.
For more information about The Waylon Fund, please visit www.thewaylonfund.org.
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.