It took a few marriages for outlaw country legends Jessi Colter and Waylon Jennings to find each other. Their road was rocky, and they dealt with a lot during their marriage, but the country singers were one of the longest relationships in Nashville, lasting until Jennings death in 2002.
Colter was born Mirriam Johnson in Phoenix, Arizona. After touring clubs in her hometown, the "Storms Never Last" singer married guitarist Duane Eddy in 1961. She recorded a couple of singles that didn't take off and toured with Eddy until their divorce in 1968.
Jennings was married three times before meeting and marrying Colter in 1969. He told Rolling Stone that it changed his life.
"When I met Jessi, I was pretty well at my lowest point. I weighed 138 pounds, and I was bent on self-destruction. Wallerin' in self-pity was the biggest part of it, stayin' depressed all the time and stoned. Jess was the best thing that ever happened to me."
He helped her secure a record deal with RCA, and she officially changed her stage name to "Jessi Colter" (in honor of her great-grandfather Jesse Colter). The couple started recording together and Colter released her debut album A Country Star is Born, which unfortunately wasn't successful. She moved to Capitol Records in 1975.
The two singers quickly became the couple in outlaw country. Their duet, "Suspicious Minds," scored the couple a Grammy nomination in 1970. "I'm Not Lisa" reached number one on the Billboard charts in 1975 and her album I'm Jessi Colter also reached number one on the country charts. "What's Happened to Blue Eyes" also reached top ten on the charts.
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In 1976, Wanted! The Outlaws album sold over a million copies and featured Jennings, Colter, Willie Nelson, and Tompall Glaser.
They also welcomed their son, Shooter Jennings, in 1979. Following his outlaw country roots, Shooter has made his own mark on the genre.
There were some tough times for Colter during her marriage to Jennings, mostly stemming from Jennings' addiction problems. Jennings got clean in 1984, citing his wife and son as his motivation for overcoming his addiction. When asked about Kris Kristofferson describing the couple's relationship as a "beautiful love affair," Colter can only agree.
She tells CMT, "It was fun. It was exciting. It was a wild ride in the early years, and yet he kind of made things settle. He had strength about him -- something about him that almost would stamp things. That's just how it was."
Following husband Waylon Jennings death, Colter has continued making music. Her 2017 album, The Psalms was her first album since Out of the Ashes in 2006.
In 2017, Colter released the memoir An Outlaw and a Lady: A Memoir of Music, Life With Waylon and the Faith That Brought Me Home.
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