Country Throwback: Travis Tritt, Hank Jr., and Marty Stuart Honor Waylon Jennings at Opry in 2002

by Emily Morgan

For decades, it’s long been a self-evident fact that Waylon Jennings helped pave the way for the outlaw country movement. Even though he passed away on February 13, 2002, fans will continue to cherish his music and legacy for years to come.

Following Waylon Jennings’ death, after a 20-year hiatus from the Grand Ole Opry, Hank Williams Jr performed alongside country stars Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt to pay homage to their friend. During their emotional set, the trio performed “Eyes of Waylon,” from Williams’ 1995 album, Hog Wild.

However, Williams was paying tribute to his friend long before his death. In 1995, he released the song dedicated to Jennings. Released on Hog Wild, the album reached the 14th spot on the “Billboard Country Albums chart.

The song is all about Williams’ regard for Jennings and how much the outlaw managed to accomplish. As he sings, “Radio will play him until the end of time, because he’s a real legend not the phony kind.”

Tritt, Williams & Stuart Honor Waylon Jennings in Heartfelt Tribute

Williams told CMT that he was inspired to write the song after running into Waylon Jennings and his wife Jessi Colter while on an airplane.

“We got to sit together and shoot the breeze — and I had a chance to show him the song I had just written that day. I know he wouldn’t care me tellin’ he had tears in his eyes that day — especially not today when we’ve all got ’em.”

Following his death in 2002, Williams found himself without his role model and best friend. Ever since he has made it a standard practice to honor Waylon every chance he gets. 

As if the song couldn’t be more of a perfect tribute, two other country legends appeared on stage. Singer-songwriters Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart always considered Jennings as the source of their artistic inspiration. 

Tritt played guitar, and Stuart played mandolin, while Willaims led the group with tear-jerking vocals. As a result, their combined talents gave fans— and Waylon Jennings— one of the best homages to ever exist.