‘The Dukes of Hazzard’: How Waylon Jennings Played a Major Role in the Iconic Series

by Katie Maloney
(Photo by Tom Hill/Getty Images)

Who knew that one of country music’s favorite outlaws was an integral part of “The Dukes of Hazzard” clan?

Waylon Jennings, known as a pioneer of outlaw country music, played a big role in “The Dukes of Hazzard.” However, he’s rarely actually seen on the show. How is that possible? Well, until season seven of the show, “The Duke of Hazzard” only featured Jennings’s voice and video of his hands playing the guitar. Jennings provided the voice of “The Balladeer,” the off-screen narrator for each episode. He also sang the show’s theme song, “The Good Old Boys.” The song was released as a single in August of 1980 and it peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Pop Chart. Additionally, the song landed in the number one spot on the Country Chart.

Waylon Jennings singing the theme for “The Dukes of Hazzard”

Waylon Jenning’s Mom Was Upset Because She Didn’t See Him On ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’

Hilariously, in the single version of the song, there is an additional lyric at the end. “You know my mama loves me… But she don’t understand, they keep showing my hands, and not my face on TV!” Later, Jennings said that his mother had complained to him that she watched the show regularly, waiting for her son to appear, but he never did. Only his hands and voice were featured during the opening credits for the show.

However, Waylon Jennings finally got the recognition he deserved in season seven of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” In 1984 he made a guest star appearance as himself in the episode, ‘The Dukes of Hazzard: Welcome, Waylon Jennings.”

Waylon Jennings on “The Dukes of Hazzard”

How Did Waylon Jennings Like Narrating The Show?

Waylon Jennings landed the job with “The Dukes of Hazzard” after producers heard his narration work in the full-length 1975 film “Moonrunners.” Because of his work in the movie, producers wanted him to narrate their show. During an interview before his passing, Jennings revealed that he did not believe the show would be as successful as it was.

“Really, I’ll be honest with you. I thought, ‘The kids are gonna have to love this thing. Because no adult was gonna go for it,'” said Jennings with a laugh. “And I never thought it would last nine years. And I did every one of those things.”

Jennings said that he agreed to do “The Dukes of Hazzard” as long as the producers let him change the narrations if they weren’t authentic.

“A lot of times I told them ‘you have to let me change it if it’s wrong.’ Because they were sending me things that were written by people born in New York. And they’d say, ‘Happier than a pig in slop.’ Bur the real saying is ‘Happier than a pig eating slop.’ And another thing they would do is they’d try to write it in country dialect, which is stupid. So I’d get on the phone with them and say ‘Don’t do that. When you want me to say was, just write w.a.s. Don’t write no w.u.z.'”

Nevertheless, Jennings said that he enjoyed his experiences with “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

“But it was fun to do that. It really was,” said Jennings.