Country Rewind: Watch Waylon Jennings Perform Trio of Tunes on ‘The Johnny Cash Show’ in 1970

by Jim Casey

Waylon Jennings was the “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line,” and he’s about to prove it during an appearance on The Johnny Cash Show in 1970.

Let’s hit pause for a few minutes today to appreciate a truly memorable country music performance from bygone days. In fact, let’s hit rewind so we can actually watch it.

Setting the Stage

In March 1970, Waylon Jennings was a fresh-faced 32-year-old. He was also fresh off of winning his first Grammy Award. Waylon earned Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group for “MacArthur Park” with The Kimberlys on March 11 at the 12th Grammy Awards. Interestingly enough, Johnny Cash and June Carter would win the award in 1971 for “If I Were a Carpenter,” besting Waylon and Jessi Colter’s “Suspicious Minds,” among others.

While Waylon’s career was in full swing by 1970, he hadn’t yet reached the monumental heights he would attain in the mid-1970s with songs like “I’m a Ramblin’ Man” and “‘Luckenbach, Texas.” Nonetheless, Waylon had dropped a handful of albums and his star was on the rise.

Meanwhile, The Johnny Cash Show was in its first season on ABC. The show, which was taped at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, aired for two seasons from 1969 to 1971.

Waylon & Johnny Jam

After noting Waylon’s recent Grammy win, Johnny got the segment in full swing with some playful banter about sharing an apartment with Waylon outside of Nashville in 1966.

“You know, we used to have an apartment together out here in Madison [Tenn.], Waylon and I did. And you know, I’d like to say that I sincerely thought that you would never amount to anything,” Johnny quipped.

“Well, I’ll tell ya what,” shot back Waylon. “I knew one thing, if you didn’t make it, [one thing] you couldn’t be is a cook. He was my cook. Can you imagine Johnny Cash in a black suit with baking powder all the way down [his shirt] and gravy in the hair?”

After that, is was showtime. Waylon took the stage, picked up a guitar, and began his trio of tunes.

  • Waylon opened the set with his 1968 No. 2 hit, “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line.”
  • Johnny joined Waylon on stage for the second song, “The Singing Star’s Queen.” Featured on Johnny’s 1966 album, Everybody Loves a Nut, the tune lovely pokes fun at Waylon.
  • Waylon closed his set with his recent single, “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” which reached No. 3 on the country chart in 1969.