JESSI COLTER (By Shaun Mather)

Born Miriam Johnson, 25 May 1943, Phoenix, Arizona

If I was a woman I suppose I'd have loved to have married Elvis. If I had Anne Bolin-ish tendencies I'd have married Jerry Lee or if it was just good fun I'd have been a groupie for Gene and the Blue Caps. Johnny Cash is devoted and would have made a lovely husband, but I disgress. When it comes to luck in the hubbie stakes, Jessi Colter takes some beating (oh er!). Whilst in her late teens she married Duane Eddy and has since spent the last thirty odd years as the wife of Waylon Jennings. However, we're not recognising her birthday at Shakinland because of her husbands, she is a singer and songwriter herself and has enjoyed her own colourful career. She adopted her stage name of Jessi Colter in honour of ancestor Jess Colter, a real-life train robber and counterfeiter who rode with Frank and Jesse James.

Born Miriam Johnson into a strict Pentecostal home, she left Phoenix in her teens to join Duane Eddy's band. She was introduced to the King of Twang through her brother-in-law, the enigmatic Cowboy Jack Clement. Her first record, "Young And Innocent"/"Lonesome Road" came out on Jamie in 1961 and was also released in the UK (London HLW 9337). Duane and Miriam married in 1962 but were divorced six years later. During this time she also made waves as a songwriter, having her songs cut by Don Gibson and Nancy SInatra among others.

Following the divorce, she headed back to Phoenix and it was here that she met Waylon Jennings. Waylon was taken by her looks and her voice and did the two best things he could in that situation. He married her (in October 1969) and got her a record deal with his own label, RCA. Her debut album, A Country Star Is Born, came out in 1970, the same year as she hit the charts with Suspicious Minds, a duet with Waylon. She made it on her own in 1975 when I'm Not Lisa went to the top of the country charts and climbed into the pop top 5.

In '76 she was part of the ground-breaking concept album, Wanted! The Outlaws, with Waylon, Willie Nelson and Tompall Glaser, which as well as marking the start of the Outlaw movement, was also the first country album to go platinum. Her solo successes continued and in 1981 she again cut with ol Waylon, the beautiful Storms Never Last. There's a great scene in the Waylon story (Video and DVD) where he and Jessi sit opposite one another singing Storms. He winks at her they just seem so devoted, it's a real touching moment. With the untimely passing of her husband, she has been involved in a tribute album and lives back in Arizona with their son Shooter. CD : Jessi Colter Collection (Capitol, 1995)

These pages were originally published as "This Is My Story" in the
Yahoo Group "Shakin' All Over". For comments or information
please contact Dik de Heer at

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