Country Throwback: Waylon Jennings Walks Out of the Tom Snyder Show in 1998

by Clayton Edwards
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Waylon Jennings was all set to go on “The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder” on CBS back in 1998. It was the same night that the network was broadcasting the Academy of Country Music Awards.

The plan was to talk about his health, the album “Closing in on the Fire,” and to get Waylon to tell some stories about Johnny Cash and President Clinton. In the end, Tom Snyder was left scrambling to fill the final eighteen minutes of the show.

Waylon Jennings only wanted to do the show if he was the only guest, according to his publicist, Schatzi Hageman. In the end, he settled for thirty minutes of airtime following Snyder’s interview with radio personality Dr. Laura.

When Dr. Laura’s interview started to cut into Waylon’s time, he started getting antsy. When it became clear that Dr. Laura was going to take big chunk of Waylon’s time slot, he got angry. After about twenty minutes of waiting to go on, Jennings told his wife Jessi Colter they were leaving. According to her, he looked at his watch and told her, “Call the car.”

By the time Waylon Jennings would have made it to the stage, he would have had less than half of his promised time. Some people would have taken on a “grin and bear it” attitude. There are many artists who would have went on stage, smiled, laughed, and gave Snyder an interview while never letting their fake smile falter. Waylon, on the other hand, wasn’t the one to be kept waiting.

Remember, outlaw country came from not wanting to play Nashville’s games. They wanted to forge their own sound and record the songs they liked. Rebellion is at the core of outlaw country and its artists.

Waylon Jennings Leaves Tom Snyder Flabbergasted

When Waylon Jennings walked out of the studio, it left Tom Snyder with almost twenty minutes to fill and no idea how to fill it.

After Dr. Laura finally left the stage and the show came back from break Tom had to explain what’s going on to the audience. He said, “I’m going to read for you now the intro that I have for Waylon Jennings, the great country music superstar. But what you have to know is that I just found out on the break here, as Dr. Laura was leaving the broadcast center, Waylon Jennings walked out of here.”

Snyder goes on to say that Waylon Jennings is the first person to ever walk off of his show before appearing. At the time, Snyder had been doing TV shows for decades. According to him, he had one guy walk off while on the air. The Hall-of-Famer’s walk-off was unprecedented, though.

For the rest of the show, Tom Snyder took phone calls from the show’s toll-free line. His fake smile never faded as the fans called in they chatted about his future after leaving “The Late Late Show.”

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