Who Wrote ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ Theme Song?

A theme song sets the tone for a show. Few things help to set a viewer in a particular time and place better than a memorable motif kicking off every episode.

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When thinking of iconic openings, the theme song from The Dukes of Hazzard has to be one of the first that comes to mind.

Just a good old boys / Never meanin’ no harm / Beats all you never saw / Been in trouble with the law since the day they was born, the lyrics read.

The theme song is just as iconic as the show itself but who penned this country classic? Find out below.

Who Wrote The Dukes of Hazzard Theme Song?

Who else could have penned a song befitting this tale of bootleggers and outlaws but Waylon Jennings?

Arguably the outlaw country artist, Jennings recorded two different versions of the track: one that was made specifically for the TV show and another that was more commercially viable for radio play.

The two versions have only slight differences. The TV version features additional banjo work by Larry McNeely and a third verse with the lyrics, Fightin’ the system like two modern-day Robin Hoods. Most of Jennings’ greatest hits compilations contain The Dukes of Hazzard theme, speaking to the success of the country star’s involvement in the show.

Jennings first started performing at age 14 on KVOW radio. From there, he formed his first band, The Texas Longhorns. Fully leaning into his dream of becoming a musician, Jennings left school at 16 to become a performer and a DJ on a number of radio stations.

Buddy Holly arranged for Jennings to have his first recording sessions and then hired him on to play bass. His tenure with Holly ended after the ill-fated flight in 1959 that crashed and killed Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens.

Jennings then moved on to form a rockabilly club band, The Waylors, in Scottsdale, Arizona. It wasn’t until he negotiated a new contract with RCA Records that he began to see success on a mass scale with albums like Lonesome, On’ry and Mean and Honky Tonk Heroes.

Jennings became a formidable name in the ’70s when he became the face of “outlaw” country. Alongside Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser, and Jessi Colter, Jennings recorded country music’s first platinum album: Wanted! The Outlaws.

He later joined forces with more country superstars – Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash – in The Highwaymen. The supergroup released three albums between 1985 and 1995.

Decades of drugs took a toll on Jennings’ body by the late ’80s. He went through heart bypass surgery in 1988. He finally had to give up the touring lifestyle in 2000 when his diabetes worsened.

Jennings died in February 2002 from diabetes complications in his home.

(Photo by Beth Gwinn/Getty Images)

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