As you already know if you’ve read any of my “work” stories, film and photo production often beats a “real job.” Occasionally we get to meet famous people, and Waylon Jennings turned out to be one of the coolest guys around. It was in the mid-90s when Marc & I owned the production motorhome, and I had it on a Chevy truck commercial out at Apacheland, a faux “western town” movie set out in Apache Junction. My motorhome was for the talent, which was Waylon Jennings, and I think the production department brought its own motorhome from Los Angeles, so the production office was in there or inside one of the buildings on set.
It was a rare rainy day in Phoenix, and I got Waylon and his wife Jesse Colter all settled into the motorhome, showed them where the fridge, snacks, and rest room were, and started heading out the door. I left a walkie-talkie on the table near them and told them to just ask for Eric if they needed anything while they were waiting for the rain to stop and we could shoot them outside with the Chevy truck as planned. As I was heading towards the door, Waylon said something to me along the lines of, “Hold on, son—Where are you going? It’s raining outside and this is your motorhome, right?” I replied that yes it was, and he proceeded to invite me to sit and chat with he and his wife for a bit. Of course, this was against the standard protocol on set (and both of us knew it)—The lowly flunkies like me don’t just sit around hobnobbing with the stars, but what could I say? I sat down across from he and Jesse, and he started talking to me like he was my uncle or something! He was very gracious and down-to-earth, and was mostly asking questions about me—Stuff like how I got into the business, and what I liked and didn’t like as though we were just two regular crew members hanging out on set!
I was a little uncomfortable at first, but Waylon was just such a chill dude that in a few minutes I forgot I was talking to one of the greatest country stars of all time and just got into the conversation. Unfortunately, the bitchy LA producer didn’t miss a thing, and within a few minutes of our conversation starting, she called me on the walkie-talkie and told me I was needed outside for something. Waylon told me to tell her that he still needed me in the motorhome for a few more minutes, so that was my response and we continued chatting. About five minutes later, Ms. LA Producer poked her head in the door and actually saw us sitting down at the table together talking and she was definitely not pleased! In her defense, I would have assumed the same thing she did (that I was some star-struck greenie who thought it was cool to hang out with the stars on set), and I would have been annoyed too. She again repeated her request that I was needed outside, and I’ll never forget Waylon’s response. He said: “What’s he gonna’ do out there while it’s raining? I might need him in here; we’re just talking, and we’ll all come out when the rain stops and it’s time to shoot.” I caught another dirty glance from Ms. LA, but I just kind of shrugged my shoulders in response. Not that I wasn’t having a blast chilling with Waylon Jennings, but she still acted like it was my idea and that I should have been rude to the man who was making my day!
The rain lasted quite a while, and we ended up talking about everything from the weather, to mundane aspects of production, and we fortunately did get to talk about his life and music too! I told him I played guitar, so we talked about guitars, bands, and a whole bunch of cool stuff. It turns out his wife Jesse Colter (a very successful country singer in her own right) was from Mesa, Arizona right down the road from Apache Junction where we were shooting, and that’s likely the reason the shoot ended up here in the first place. I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of Waylon and Jessie’s company for over two hours—An unusually long rainstorm for dry, sunny Arizona. Like I said, sometimes production beats a “real job” and I have to admit it was almost as much fun for me watching him piss off Ms. LA Producer as it was to hang with him for a couple hours. Almost…