Bullets And Booze: 31 Vintage Photos Of Outlaw Country

Published October 14, 2017
Updated December 18, 2017

From Willie to Johnny, here are 31 incredible photos from the unchained glory days of Outlaw Country.

Johnny Cash Mug Shot
Outlaw Country Willie Nelson Waylon and Jennings
Waylon Jennings with a gun
Johnny Paycheck and the Teamsters
Bullets And Booze: 31 Vintage Photos Of Outlaw Country
View Gallery

In the early 1970s, a new kind of country music burst onto the scene and began to change the face of popular music forever.

"Outlaw country" arose out of a frustration with the slick, stagnant, formulaic Nashville sound that had dominated country music for years.

Outlaw artists and listeners instead yearned for a kind of country music that was gritty and real, closer to their own authentic realities than to that of the rhinestone cowboys of the Nashville sound.

Soon, established country artists like Johnny Cash became icons of this new outlaw movement. Cash's live album At Folsom Prison, in particular, became the bible of the movement, thus inspiring more artists to adopt this new sound.

One such artist was Merle Haggard, an inmate at California's infamous San Quentin prison who was so inspired by Cash's New Year's 1959 performance there that he decided to become a musician. Haggard would go on to become one of the most famous musicians of the outlaw country movement.

Soon, the movement grew to include hard-hitting, raw musicians like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. In 1985, these very men joined Cash to create The Highwaymen, the supergroup of the outlaw sound.

Though country music has evolved greatly since this era, outlaw country spawned an ethos that persists throughout the genre, and American pop culture as a whole, to this day.

After this look at outlaw country, see 28 Johnny Cash photos that reveal the man behind the icon. Then, check out some photos from when punk ruled New York City.

Gabe Paoletti
Gabe Paoletti is a New York City-based writer and a former Editorial Intern at All That's Interesting. He holds a Bachelor's in English from Fordham University.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.