Music

Richie Albright, Waylon Jennings' Drummer and 'Right Hand Man,' Dead at 81

Screengrab via YouTube

Richie Albright, the drummer who doubled as Waylon Jennings' "right hand man," passed away on Tuesday (Feb. 9). He was 81 years old.

"To many Richie was an Outlaw, legendary drummer and right-hand man to Waylon Jennings, but to those who knew him best he was a loyal friend, a tireless worker, a loving husband and a proud father," read a statement on Albright's Facebook page.

Albright, an Oklahoma native, joined Jennings' band The Waylors in 1964. He was with Jennings for his early career success at Scottsdale, Arizona music venue JD's and followed Hoss to Nashville in 1966.

Per the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Albright first suggested that Jennings incorporate rock elements he learned from Buddy Holly into country music. That suggestion found Jennings join Willie Nelson and others in popularizing outlaw country, which was more about creative freedom than tough guy posturing.

At their shared outlaw peak, Albright and Jennings performed on multiple classic releases for RCA, including the image-shaping Lonesome, On'ry and Mean (1973) and the album that helped expose songwriter Billy Joe Shaver to the masses, Honky Tonk Heroes (1973).

Later in Jennings' career, the singer-songwriter recruited Albright for his deam team tour lineup, the Waymore Blues Band.

Albright's also credited as a performer on albums by Johnny Rodriguez, fellow Waylor Gordon Payne and Jennings' wife Jessi Colter.

He also shares songwriting credit with Jennings and Hank Williams Jr. for "The Conversation."

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Albright still performed with Tommy Townsend in Waymore's Outlaws, an outfit that often performed with Waylon and Jessi's son, Shooter Jennings (full name Waylon Albright Jennings).

"When Richie wasn't on the road it was impossible to keep him still -- even in his last days," reads the statement on his Facebook page. "His days were spent surveying land and weekends tending to his farm in Leiper's Fork."

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Per Facebook, Albright is survived by his wife, Linda, his sons, Brian and Trey, his daughter, Richel, and his brother, Jerry. He is preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Margie Albright, and his oldest brother, Charles.

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Richie Albright, Waylon Jennings' Drummer and 'Right Hand Man,' Dead at 81