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Thursday, 14 February, 2002, 07:21 GMT
Country star Waylon Jennings dies
Waylon Jennings
Jennings missed the fateful crash that killed Buddy Holly
US country music singer Waylon Jennings has died at the age of 64.

The Texas-born singer was an influential figure in the music business and helped to shape instrumental and vocal styles as well as the image of country.

He sold more than 40 million records world-wide, enjoyed 89 Billboard country chart hits, including 16 number one songs, and 53 top 10 tunes.

He was best known in the UK as the singer who provided the theme tune and song to the US TV series, The Dukes of Hazzard.

Mentor

A family spokesperson said in a statement that the singer "died very peacefully in his sleep" in the south-western US state of Arizona, but declined to give details surrounding his death at the request of his family.

"All I can say is that Waylon Jennings died peacefully at home," said spokesman Mark Ross.

Jennings famously missed the 1959 flight that killed his friend and mentor Buddy Holly.

"Buddy was the first guy who had confidence in me," he once said in a radio interview. "Hell, I had as much star quality as an old shoe. But he really liked me and believed in me."

Reports said Jennings died of diabetes-related disorders in Chandler, Arizona, where he moved from Nashville as his health declined in recent years.

The singer had to have his left foot amputated in December due to diabetic problems after undergoing triple bypass heart surgery in 1998 and a further operation for vascular disease last year.

Flight

He began his career in the mid 1950s as a protege of Holly, who was killed along with musicians Richie Valens and The Big Bopper, when their plane crashed on 3 February 1959.

Jennings had been due to take the same flight, but gave up his seat to J.P. Richardson, The Big Bopper, at the last minute.

He enjoyed hits with Are You Sure Hank Done It That Way, Luckenbach, Texas, Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line, Good Hearted Woman and Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.

See also:

14 Feb 02 | Music
Waylon Jennings: Country legend
14 Feb 02 | Music
Your tributes: Waylon Jennings
14 Mar 01 | Entertainment
US music fans prefer rap to country
01 Nov 01 | Showbiz
Johnny Cash back in hospital
05 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Dixie Chicks sweep country awards
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