Richie Albright, Waylon Jennings’ Longtime Drummer, Dies at 81

by Matthew Wilson

Musician Richie Albright has died. People perhaps best knew the musician for being the late Waylon Jennings‘ longtime drummer.

Albright reportedly passed away on Tuesday (Feb. 9) in Nashville. The artist was 81-years-old. According to Rolling Stone, a representative for Jennings’ son Shooter confirmed Albright’s passing. Fans will remember Albright for his various contributions to the sound of the Outlaw country genre. The drummer helped develop that genre’s signature up-tempo and southern rock style.

Richie Albright and Waylon Jennings

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Albright rose to fame alongside Jennings during the 1960s. He was among Jennings’ band in Arizona, which quickly gained a following. Over the years, both Jennings and Albright formed a fast friendship and partnership together. Once, the musician even referred to Albright as his “right hand,” showing the amount of respect he had for the drummer.

“I’d turn around and look at Richie and we’d be going off on this tangent, jamming, letting the song carry us along, and a smile of satisfaction would spread across our faces,” Jennings wrote in his autobiography. “I just knew musically we fit.”

One of Albright’s biggest contributions to the Outlaw country genre is adding the four-on-the-floor beat, which became popular quickly after. Stepping outside the realm of drummer, Albright also acted as producer on some of Jennings’ most popular albums. For instance, he produced “I’ve Always Been Crazy” in 1978 and “The Eagle” in 1990.

Outside of playing with Jennings, the drummer also played with some of country music’s other brightest stars. For instance, he played alongside Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Jessi Colter. After Jennings passed away, Albright was one of several musicians that kept the singer’s memory alive. He played several of the singer’s songs with the Waymor’s Outlaws.

Up until 2017, Albright toured alongside Jennings’ son Shooter, who is a musician in his own right. In another proof of Albright and Waylon’s strong friendship, Waylon named Shooter’s middle name after the singer. Albright’s contribution to the genre can’t be stated enough. Currently, the Country Music Hall of Fame has his drum kit on display in their museum as part of their 1970’s Outlaw country exhibit.

Albright’s family, friends, and fans across the world will miss him and his sound.