Who is Jessi Colter?
Jessi Colter is the professional name of the American country music artist Mirriam Johnson. She is a famous country singer whose singles are as famous as her collaborations with her late husband Waylon Jennings, a popular country singer and song writer. Colter, who was part of the mid-70s outlaw country movement, has sung many popular songs with famous singers apart from her husband. Some of her most successful hits include ‘Storms Never Last’, ‘I am not Lisa’ and ‘What’s Happened to Blue Eyes.’ Her collaboration on the LP ‘Wanted: The Outlaws’ was an RIAA-certified Platinum album. Her five decades long music career has seen her perform solo as well as with collaborators with successful results. She has weathered several storms, both professionally and personally, and has recorded those struggles in a memoir. She recently recorded the album ‘The Psalms’ at the age of 74.
Childhood & Early Life
Miriam Johnson was born on May. 25, 1943 in Phoenix, Arizona. She had a strict Pentecostal upbringing as her mother was a preacher. Her father was a race driver.
She began playing the piano at the local church when she was 11 years old. After graduating from Mesa High School in 1961, she began performing at clubs in and around her hometown.
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Jessi Colter’s first record ‘Lonesome Road’ was produced by her husband Duane Eddy, but it didn't make any waves. Her second record was even less successful, so she stopped recording, but continued to tour with him.
She resumed her recording career in 1970 under the name Jessi Coulter. She sang duets with Waylon Jennings and also played the keyboard for him, when he appeared on ‘The Johnny Cash Show.’
She released her single ‘I am not Lisa’ in 1975, which reached the top spot on Billboard’s Country Chart and 4th spot on Billboard’s Pop Chart. Her album ‘I’m Jessi Coulter’ was also released in 1975 and reached the top spot on the Cashbox Top Country Albums. It reached the fourth spot on the Billboard Country Chart and reigned at Number 50 on the Billboard 200, Top 100 Pop Albums Chart.
‘What Happened to Blue Eyes’, the follow up single from ‘I’m Jessie Coulter’ was also very successful, reaching Number 5 on the Billboard Country Chart and number 57 on the Pop Chart. The B side of the single ‘You Ain't Never Been Loved’ also made it to the top 100 of the Pop Chart.
In 1976, she released two successful albums, ‘Jessi’ and ‘Diamond in the ‘Rough.’ In 1977, her album ‘Mirriam’ came out, while in 1978, she unveiled the album ‘That's the Way a Cowboy Rocks and Rolls.’
In 1981, she released a duet with her husband Waylon Jennings titled ‘Leather and Lace.’ It was an RIAA Gold certified album. Two singles from ‘Leather and Lace’ titled ‘Storms Never Last’ written by her and ‘The Wild Side of Life / It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’ were major hits on the Billboard Country Chart.
In 1984, she released an album under the Triad label called ‘Rock and Roll Lullaby’, which was produced by Chip Moman.
She took a hiatus during which she looked after her husband Waylon Jennings as he went through a difficult phase. She came back to the recording studio in the 90s, releasing a children’s music album titled ‘Jessi Coulter Sings Just For Kids: Songs from Around the World.’
In 2006, she recorded the album ‘Out of the Ashes’ following the death of her husband Jennings.
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In 2017, she recorded passages from the Bible in the album ‘The Psalms’, which was released on March 24.
Jessi Colter’s debut single ‘I am not Lisa’, which released under Capitol Records in 1975, took the top spot on the Billboard Country Chart and reached Number 4 on the Billboard Pop Chart.
In 1976, she collaborated with Waylon Jennings, Tompall Glaser and Willie Nelson to record the award-winning platinum album ‘Wanted! The Outlaws.’
Awards & Achievements
In 1975, Jessi Colter won the Album of the Year award along with Waylon Jennings, Tompall Glaser and Willie Nelson at The Academy of Country Music Awards for the album ‘Wanted! The Outlaws’.
In 2007, she won the Grammy Award in the category Grammy Hall of Fame along with Waylon Jennings, Tompall Glaser and Willie Nelson.
Family & Personal Life
Jessi Colter married guitarist Duane Eddy on February 3, 1962 in Los Angeles. They have a daughter together, Jennifer Eddy. The couple got divorced in 1968.
She married Waylon Jennings on October 26, 1969. They were together till his death in 2002. They have a son called Waylon Albright Shooter Jennings who was born on May 19, 1979.
Jessi Colter is not the only achiever in her family as her immediate family members are also successful artists. She has received acclaim for her collaborations with her first and second husbands as well as with her son Shooter Jennings.
On April 11, 2017, she released a memoir ‘An Outlaw and a Lady: A Memoir of Music, Life with Waylon, and the Faith That Brought Me Home’, in which she detailed the ups and downs of her life.