Following a father’s musical footsteps is hard enough, but boots don’t come harder to match than those of Country icon Waylon Jennings. Yet, in a similar (if somewhat less extreme) manner as fellow Country scion Hank III, Shooter Jennings has honored and reflected his father’s incalculable Country contributions while forging his own unique and successful path.
Jennings’ musical talents were evident early on: drums at 5; piano at 8; guitar at 14. At 17, Jennings collaborated with his father on an unusual album of Ambient Industrial Rock titled Fenixon (a phonetic mash-up of “phoenix” and “son”), which went unreleased until 2014. In 2001, Jennings relocated from Nashville, Tenn., to Los Angeles and founded the Glam Punk quintet Stargunn; the band’s sole album came later that year.
Jennings dissolved the band in 2003 to contemplate his next move. He reportedly refused Velvet Revolver’s frontman offer to explore his Country DNA. In 2005, Jennings and the .357’s signed with Universal South for his first full-fledged Country album, Put the “O” Back in Country, which spawned the Top 30 single “Fourth of July” (that year, he also portrayed his father in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line). After the raw Rock of 2006’s Electric Rodeo and the ‘70s tint of 2007’s The Wolf, Jennings released Bad Magick, a best-of/new/live compilation, then left Universal.
Jennings rechristened his backing band Heirophant in 2009 and played that year’s Warped Tour. His acclaimed 2010 dystopian concept album Black Ribbons was narrated by Stephen King and compared to the Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd and (by Jennings himself) Nine Inch Nails.
In 2011, Jennings and new backing band the Triple Crown released his first self-produced album, 2012’s Roots Country gem Family Man, followed by 2013’s The Other Life. In 2013, Jennings founded his own label, Black Country Rock (named for a David Bowie song from The Man Who Sold the World) and released several albums, including a live record from his mom Jessi Colter, a re-master of his father’s Right for the Time and the Fenixon album.
Last year, Jennings released two EPs, individual tributes to George Jones and Giorgio Moroder, and announced collaborations with Willie Nelson’s son Lukas and Billy Ray Cyrus, once again proving that Shooter Jennings has no interest in genre restrictions and has the most fun when he’s coloring well outside the lines of expectation.
SHOOTER JENNINGS plays at Madison Theater Wednesday, Jan. 28. Find tickets/more info here .