"I walked into the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas one night, and Waylon Jenning's voice was coming from the bandstand, except when I walked closer, I could see that it was not Ol' Waylon. but Wendel Adkins, a young man with an idea - to get their attention one way then lay the real Wendel on them. I stayed for two or three shows, just sittin' and listening enjoyin' Wendell Adkin's music. Sometimes laid back, sometimes kickin', always into his music. After hearing the music of Wendel Adkins, doing songs of his own, and songs by other people other than Waylon, I knew a star was born. I told Wendel 'come on down to Texas' because I knew Texas was ready for Wendel Adkins, and Wendel Adkins was ready for Texas. Wendel Adkins - a man very much into what's going on with a natural sound all his own." - Willie Nelson
We all know their names. We are all familiar with their work. And of course we know who the modern day fake ass country wannabe outlaws are (and let's be honest, they suck). However, somewhere between the obvious and the ridiculous, names get lost. Shaver, Tompall Glaser, Cowboy Jack Clement are just as important as Willie and Waylon for being the artichets of the Outlaw sound. They are artists that don't get enough respect from the industry and today's faux country fans. They are the lost Outlaws.
Let me tell you about KENTUCKY'S lost Outlaw.
Wendel Adkins is one of those names that don't pop up in discussions about Outlaw Country. He should. He was right there in thick of it all during the seventies with Willie, Waylon and Me (ok, I meant Coe, but ya know what I'm getting at). So unless you are a true student of Outlaw Country, you may or may not recognize the name. However, you should know the name Wendel Adkins.
Based on my research, Adkins was born in KENTUCKY and moved to Freemont, Ohio at a very young age. So yes, KENTUCKY will claim him as one of their own. He played in various rock bands during his teens, but he always had a preference for singing country music. Chasing the dream to make it in Nashville, Adkins took off for Music City, but his time was short-lived and eventually he moved out for the bright lights of Vegas.
Yep, you guessed it. It was Willie Nelson that discovered Wendel playing in Vegas. From there, he convinced him to move to Texas where he could be more visible within the scene. Landing gigs opening for Willie, and David Allan Coe, Adkins soon found his way to his first album, Sundowners, released on Motown's Hitsville label in 1977. Yes, you read that right...Motown's Hitsville label. Adkins went on to record more, including his second album which was recorded at Willie Nelson's club, Whiskey River. He set up a residency at Gilley's and recorded another live album.
I encourage you to explore the music of Wendel Adkins. Dude is all over the Youtube. When you watch some of these videos, you will notice something. Many of these concerts you will see took place in Europe. Yes, to my surprise, Wendel Adkins is damn superstar in Sweden, Finland, and Norway. Apparently they love good country music across the pond! Footage of him playing Waylon (and sounding like him too!), Johnny Cash, Tanya Tucker, David Allan Coe and Willie Nelson. Take a good listen to the video below. I'm going to assume (because when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me) that the announcer's voice is Norwegian. Crack ya open a cold Lone Star and enjoy, because you will hear KENTUCKY, and the names of Waylon Jennings, David Allan Coe, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens and George Jones with a Norwegian accent. Remember,..we assume.
Ain't that good?!
Adkins never really gained much attention outside of Texas during his days, but continued his pursuit of playing authentic Texas honky-tonk music. How authentic you ask? Take a listen to his albums, such as: Sundowners, Cowboy Singer, Live at Gilley's, Live at Whiskey River, Feet on the Ground, If That Ain't Country, and Honky Tonkin'. Based on my research, Wendel would be 67 (give or take) and indications point to all signs that he is playing country music in Europe, and has enjoyed a good fanbase for years there. There is one album available on iTunes and you can find some used vinyl through Amazon and ebay. Actually, keep yer meat hooks of my albums! I want them!
If you want to hear somebody new, someone you have never heard of before, and you want to hear AUTHENTIC TEXAS HONKY TONK OUTLAW COUNTRY MUSIC, then you want Wendel Adkins. His music is going to take you back to a time when country music was as good as it gets. Where the beer is going to stay cold, the smoke is going to hang overtop the bar and the dance floor, the mechanical bull will keep bucking, the voice of Waylon will haunt you, and somewhere in Europe tonight, it's Wendel Adkins...a good ole KENTUCKY boy...continuing the great tradition of Outlaw Country music!
IF ANYBODY HAS ANY ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON WENDEL, PLEASE LET US KNOW! WE DID THE BEST WE COULD WITH THE LITTLE INFO WE HAD.