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Willie, Waylon, and the Boys: How Nashville Outsiders Changed Country Music Forever (Hardcover)

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Willie, Waylon, and the Boys: How Nashville Outsiders Changed Country Music Forever By Brian Fairbanks Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

As an avid outlaw country music fan, I was thrilled to find a book that includes the history of outlaw country (country music taking place outside of the Nashville country scene, bringing rock and folk music together) while bringing in the newer artists as well. Whether you are a Waylon Jennings fan or a Brandi Carlile fan you get the inside scoop into how these artists came to be and who came before them. Brian Fairbanks takes us through the detailed and inspiring history of outlaw country, from Cash and Jennings to artists like Chris Stapleton and Kacey Musgraves whose history have been less written about. This book is a must–read for any country music fan.

— Jade


The tragic and inspiring story of the leaders of Outlaw country and their influence on today’s Alt-County and Americana superstars, tracing a path from Waylon Jennings’ survival on the Day the Music Died through to the Highwaymen and on to the current creative and commercial explosion of Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Zach Bryan, Jason Isbell, and the Highwomen.

On February 2, 1959, Waylon Jennings, bassist for his best friend, the rock star Buddy Holly, gave up his seat on a charter flight. Jennings joked that he hoped the plane, leaving without him, would crash. When it did, killing all aboard, on "the Day the Music Died," he was devastated and never fully recovered.
Jennings switched to playing country, creating the Outlaw movement and later forming the Highwaymen supergroup, the first in country music, with Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. The foursome battled addiction, record companies, ex-wives, violent fans, and the I.R.S. and D.E.A., en route to unprecedented mainstream success. Today, their acolytes Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Sturgill Simpson, and Taylor Swift outsell all challengers, and country is the most popular of all genres.
In this fascinating new book, Brian Fairbanks draws a line from Buddy Holly through the Outlaw stars of the 60s and 70s, all the way to the country headliners and more diverse, up-and-coming Nashville rebels of today, bringing the reader deep into the worlds of not only Cash, Nelson, Kristofferson, and Jennings but artists like Chris Stapleton, Simpson, Bingham, and Isbell, stadium-filling masters whose stories have not been told in book form, as well as new, diverse artists like the Highwomen, Brittney Spencer, and Allison Russell. Thought-provoking and meticulously researched, Willie, Waylon, and the Boys ultimately shows how a twenty-one-year-old bass-playing plane crash survivor helped changed the course of American music.

About the Author

Brian Fairbanks was an investigative reporter at Gawker and the Consumerist. He has also written for the Guardian, Business Insider, the New York Observer, Nerve, and many more outlets, and is the author of Wizards: David Duke, America's Wildest Election, and the Rise of the Far Right.


Praise For…

“An interesting study of the vaunted outlaws of country music, who turn out to be reasonably law-abiding citizens… A pleasure for fans of the smoke-shrouded, hell-raising men in black—and tie-dye.”—Kirkus

Product Details
ISBN: 9780306831089
ISBN-10: 0306831082
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 464
Language: English