Littlefield— Former country music star Waylon Jennings began his life and career in the little town of Littlefield. Sitting high on the Llano Estacado, finding a libation in this little town isn’t as laborious as picking the cotton in these parts.
All you have to do is drive to the center of town to visit Waymore’s Liquor Store where you’ll find one of the town’s native sons.
“James D. Jennings…I just happen to be Jimmy Jasper James D, that’s what my daddy called me. [I go by] James Jennings…Or whatever will get me in the door,” joked James Jennings.
James has a unique connection to one of the most celebrated singers of country music— he’s the last living brother of Waylon Jennings.
“I’m the third one down… there’s Waylon, and Tommy, and me, and then my younger brother, Bo, we called him, Phillip Dole was his name… Last man standing, like Willie’s got that song, I guess, yes,” said James.
Waymore’s is way more than just a liquor store, it is a sanctuary of special things relating to the relationship James had with Waylon.
“I needed somewhere to put this stuff I had,” he said.
Don’t’ let him fool you, James loves telling stories about his big brother.
“You know, you get to sit and watch somebody more or less get plum out of a cotton patch right to where he made it in country music. I’d say that’s pretty neat,” he said.
It all starts in an old house just north of town where Waylon Jennings was born in 1937. Back then, Bob Wills was King and cotton farming was commonplace.
“We [were] just dirt poor people,” said James. “My daddy, he would be out in the farm working somewhere, and we’d go with mama to the cotton patch, she pulled cotton, but when you’re poor, and you’re growing up and everybody around you is in the same shape over there where we lived at, you don’t realize it. You think… everybody else is the same way, but they’re not.”
“And this is Daddy, and this is Tommy, and that’s Waylon, and I’m the hood ornament. And see them guns right there? That’s what they got for Christmas. Mom and Daddy got him on Kodak. Saved her money up, when she took that picture… that was on Christmas day,” he recalled as he pointed to a family photograph.
By the time James came around, Waylon was already playing guitar. At the age of 12, he had his own local radio show and would play with anybody, anywhere he could.
“Anybody that was involved in music that could go out halfway keep a beat, well he had them as a band member,” said James.
The early memories of Waylon’s career in country music makes James feel like a kid again, but when talking about the 70’s and 80’s, when James was able to experience life with Waylon, that’s when things got interesting!
“It’s 1,056 miles from here to Nashville, I can tell you,” said James.
“Waylon was going at it pretty hard, but he was just a hell of a good ol’ boy,” he said. “He liked having fun, having a good time, and don’t bother nobody, don’t hurt nobody, but just don’t take [nothing] off nobody.”
Turns out Waylon was exactly as you’d imagine him.
“There’s two or three things I can tell you about Waylon. His first love in his life was that guitar. His second love in his life would getting on that stage and singing and entertaining. His third love was chasing women,” said James.
Then there were the Highwaymen.
“Got your money’s worth out of that show, I promise you,” said James. ”That’s me, my wife, my step daddy, mama, Tutsi, Jesse Coulter, and June Carter Cash. We went to Mirage in Vegas, at the Highwaymen tour. It was [a] sure good show.”
James continued to recount his memories of his time with Waylon in the country music world.
“You sitting on the bus, and Hank Williams Jr. comes out there, and and sits around the bull, and Johnny Cash. You get sat around, and listen to them guys talk, and talk to them, and they visit back and forth, and every one of them that I ever met were just good ol’ boys. Most of them are, well I don’t think they was quite as poor as we wer maybe, but they was brought up on red beans and fried taters just like we was, and they know what it’s like, and they’re just good ol’ boys, just got the talent to sing. God give it to a few. He didn’t give it to all of us,” said James.
Before you know it, you’re talking about all the hits and the show that started your Saturday morning.
“Dukes of Hazzard…I get gobs of people come in here talking about their Dukes of Hazzard car, and getting in front of the TV, and playing Dukes of Hazzard, jumping everything with it,” said James.
Getting a chance to hear firsthand accounts of what life was like for the Jennings and all the music legends they got to live life with makes Waymore’s Liquor Store a lively stop on The Texas Bucket List.
“We have a lot [of people] for this [the museum], and well, we sell a lot of liquor, too,” said James.