On This Day: Hank Williams Jr. Makes First Opry Appearance in 20 Years Honoring Late Waylon Jennings

by Katie Maloney
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Nineteen years ago today, Hank Williams Jr. joined Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart to pay tribute to Waylon Jennings at the Grand Ole Opry.

It’s no secret that Hank Williams Jr. and Waylon Jennings were friends. Waylon was a mentor and friend to Hank Jr. for years. The two even collaborated on a song together. “The Conversation” is about a talk the two of them had together about Jr.’s father, Hank Williams. During the song, the two separate the myths from the truth. Certainly, Williams struggled with alcoholism and infidelity for his entire life. However, as the song states, he was more than just his habits. During the song, they sing, “Yeah, back then, they called him crazy. Nowadays, they call him a saint. Now the ones that call him crazy. Are still riding on his name.”

The song was originally released on Williams’ 1979 album Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound. Four years later, their collaboration was reissued on Jennings’ album Waylon and Company. Although “The Conversation” performed only moderately on the charts, dedicated Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr. fans consider the song a classic.

So, it’s no surprise that Jr. returned to the Opry in 2002 to pay tribute to his mentor and friend, Waylon Jennings. Just a few days after Waylon’s death, following a 20-year absence from the Grand Ole Opry stage, Hank Williams Jr. performed “Eyes of Waylon,” from his 1995 album, Hog Wild. Hank Jr. performed with Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart.

Hank Williams Jr. pays tribute to Waylon Jennings in 2002.

Hank Williams Jr. Loves Waylon Jennings Guitar

Following Waylon’s passing, Hank Jr. released his song, “Waylon’s Guitar.” The song is a beautiful tribute to all the things he learned from his friend Waylon. During the song, Hank Jr. sings “I got my first lesson from him around seventy-three. He didn’t lonesome or honoree to me. He was about the nicest guy I’ve ever met on the road. Yeah, Waylon’s guitar could carry the load.”

Certainly, Jr. had a special love for Waylon’s guitar. So, does he have it now? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The guitar went up for auction after Waylon’s passing and actress Nicole Kidman bought it for her husband Keith Urban in 2009. However, Keith Urban told Jr. that he can borrow it anytime he wants.

We hope that someday Hank Williams Jr. will have the chance to reconnect with the guitar. Maybe the two can make some classic outlaw music together.

Hank Williams Jr.’s “Waylon’s Guitar”
Outsider.com