From jailbird to… Big Bird? Less than a year after quitting a dangerously deep cocaine addiction — a habit that once got him arrested — country outlaw Waylon Jennings appeared in the Sesame Street musical comedy, Follow That Bird. The 1985 flick features Jennings lending advice to television’s favorite (and largest) bird, who is on a quest to get back to Sesame Street after running away from home. Big Bird encounters a turkey-truck driver played by the country singer, who agrees to give the feathered hitchhiker a lift strictly on account that he could pass for a big turkey.
While Big Bird sulks in misery, “I’ll never get home,” Jennings convinces him to leave the bad times in the rear view, advising “pick up your feet and follow your beak.” Their traveling talk transitions into an inspirational tune, “Ain’t No Road Too Long,” with Big Bird and his musical driver trading lines with some of the other Sesame Street characters, including Bert, Ernie and Cookie Monster.
Jennings was one of a handful of celebrities who made cameos in Follow That Bird. Chevy Chase played a newscaster in the movie, while John Candy had a small role as a police officer and Sandra Bernhard played a waitress. Jennings also once performed on the Sesame Street TV series, which is still in production after more than 45 years on the air. Johnny Cash, Alison Krauss, Carrie Underwood and Sugarland are just a few other big Nashville names who’ve made guest appearances on the show.
Jennings had several acting gigs before he passed away in 2002. But perhaps his most memorable small screen role was off camera, as he was the narrator for all seven seasons of The Dukes of Hazzard, also providing the show’s theme song, “Good Ol’ Boys.”