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Tommy Townsend and the late Waylon Jennings’ personal and work relationship goes back decades.
Townsend, the country music singer, shared details with Fox News Digital about his “new and old” album featuring Waylon Jennings titled, “Southern Man,” which was released last Friday.
Townsend — who considered himself a country music artist since he was 5 years old — made music with the late country star in the 80s and 90s, and the music was never released.
“I signed a record deal with Audium Nashville in September, and it was just to do a three album deal,” he explained. “In conversation, it [the album] came up. They were like, ‘You have what?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, there’s a record that Waylon Jennings and Jerry Bridges produced when I was younger, and it never came out.'”
Townsend shared that his record label wanted to hear it and once they did, they “loved it.” He shared that BFD/Audium Nashville GM Chuck Rhodes called it “one of the best country records I’ve heard in 10 years.”
His label then asked if they could release the music, and he said “certainly” because he always considered it a “really good record that never had a chance to be heard.”
Country singer Waylon Jennings performs at Alex Cooley’s Capri Ballroom in February 1979. (Photo by Tom Hill/Getty Images)
Townsend first met Jennings when he was 13 years old.
“I met Waylon when I was like 13,” Townsend shared. “Hells Angels at that time were doing security for him, and my parents had talked to one of them and said their son was a Waylon fan.”
Townsend shared that one of Jennings’ security guards responded with, “Well bring Tommy down here after the show, and I’ll bring him by there to meet him because Waylon loves kids.”
Although Townsend and Jennings first met when he was a young teen, they didn’t start collaborating on music until he was a senior in high school.
Waylon Jennings in his office on August 27, 1987, Nashville Tennessee. (Photo by Beth Gwinn/Getty Images)
“Jerry had first taken me in,” Townsend said, speaking of Jerry Bridges. “Then Jerry and Waylon got involved, so that’s kind of how it all began.”
When Waylon and Townsend first began working on this album, Townsend was only 19 years old. They continued to slowly create new records over a 10-year period, and the album was never released.
Jennings — who pioneered the Outlaw movement in country music — died in 2002 at 64 from diabetes-related health problems.
Townsend recalls working with Jennings’ was “so easy” because “he was so great to be around.”
Musicians Willie Nelson (left) and Waylon Jennings circa 1983. (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
“He would let me try my own things,” he shared. “He used to always encourage me in everything I did. He was just a great guy.”
When Townsend recalled his favorite memory with the late-country icon, he laughed as he thought back to a time when the duo performed together.
“I was playing with him one night and the guitar tech told me, ‘I’ll change your guitar strings because Waylon won’t call you out until the middle or end of the night,’” he said.
“So I said, ‘Great’. It was only four or five songs into the show, and Waylon calls me out and the guitar tech only had like three or four strings on my guitar.”
“So I walked out and said to Waylon, ‘I got to use your guitar,’” Townsend said. He noted that Waylon was a “pretty tall guy,” so he had to bend down in order to hear him on the stage.
“Well this friendship s— is just going way too far,” Jennings joked to Townsend. “Then he took his guitar off and put it on me and said, ‘Have fun.’”
Waylon Jennings died in 2002 from diabetes-related health problems. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Townsend noted Jennings will be on several songs on the album, both playing and singing. He’s most excited for country music fans to get some of the “Waylon flair.”
“It’s a good country album,” Townsend said. “I didn’t write any of the songs on the album, but these are great songs that no ones ever heard with a great 80s and 90s flair to it.”
Townsend also credits Jennings for having a “huge influence” on the country artist he is today.