Outlaw by acclaimed author Michael Streissguth follows the stories of three legends as they redefined country music: Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.
Streissguth delves into the country music scene in the late '60s and early '70s, when these rebels found themselves in Music City writing songs and vying for record deals. Channeling the unrest of the times, all three Country Music Hall of Famers resisted the music industry’s unwritten rules and emerged as leaders of the outlaw movement that ultimately changed the recording industry.
Outlaw offers a broad portrait of the outlaw movement in Nashville that includes a diverse secondary cast of characters, such as Johnny Cash, Rodney Crowell, Kinky Friedman, and Billy Joe Shaver, among others.
With archival photographs throughout, Outlaw is a comprehensive examination of a fascinating shift in country music, and the three unbelievably talented musicians who forged the way.
In February 1976, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Willie Nelson, and Tompall Glaser and the Glaser Brothers released Wanted: The Outlaws!, building upon their respective growing statures in the world of country music. Wanted! became the first country album to sell a million copies. In this compulsively readable book, music historian Streissguth describes the contrast between the staid Nashville music scene of the late '60s and early '70s, and the dynamic new music filtering into the city from Los Angeles (Emmylou Harris), Texas (Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, Waylon Jennings), and South Carolina . One by one, he introduces readers to the change-makers. Kris Kristofferson was a Texas boy who arrived fresh out of the service looking to score big as a songwriter, working many odd jobs until Johnny Cash took him under his wing and provided Kristofferson with the stability he needed to write. Jennings was devastated by Buddy Holly's death (Jennings was a member of Holly's band) and made his way to Nashville to work with RCA and Chet Atkins as his career developed. Nelson came to Nashville from Texas in 1960, but then turned around and went back, eventually meeting up with Jennings and others to infuse fresh spirit into country music. Streissguth uses this one group of musicians not only to capture the essence of Nashville in the 1970s, but to portray the social and cultural forces the Vietnam War protests, the clash of Old South and New South, the Civil Rights movement that led to tremendous changes in the country music industry at the time.
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