Willie Nelson & Family on Tour

February 23rd, 2018


Feb 27 (rescheduled from Feb 18)
St. Augustine Amphitheater
St. Augustine, FL

Feb 28 (rescheduled from Feb 15)
with Los Lonely Boys
Ruth Eckerd Hall
with Los Lonely Boys
Clearwater, FL

March 2 (rescheduled from Feb 13)
Pompano Beach Amphitheater
with Los Lonely Boys
Pompano Beach, FL

March 3
(rescheduled from Feb 10)
with Los Lonely Boys
Panama City, FL

March 5
Peace Concert Hall
Greenville, SC

March 6
Mark Smith Concert Hall
Huntsville, AL

March 8
House of Blues
New Orleans, LA

March 9
Golden Nugget
Lake Charles, LA

March 10
Choctaw Grand Theater
Durant, OK

March 12
Amarillo Civic Center
Amarillo, TX

April 10
Baxter Arena
with Dwight Yoakum, Brandy Clark
Omaha, NE

April 11
Wells Fargo Arena
with Dwight Yoakum, Robert Earl Keen, Brandy Clark
Des Moines, IA

April 13
Six Flags Center
with Dwight Yoakum, Robert Earl Keen, Brandy Clark
Dubuque, IA

April 14
Coronado Performing Arts Center
Rockford, IL

April 15
Show Me Center
with Dwight Yoakum, Robert Earl Keen, Brandy Clark
Cape Girardeau, MO

April 17
Owensboro Convention Center
Owensboro, KY

April 18
Peabody Opera House
with Brandy Clark
St. Louis, MO

April 20, 21st
with Robert Earl Keen
Whitewather Amphitheater
New Braunfels, TX

May 16
BOK Center
with Alison Krauss
Tulsa, OK

May 18
Ascend Amphitheater
with Alison Krauss
Nashville, TN

May 19
Oak Mountain Amphitheater
with Alison Krauss
Pelham, AL

May 20
Verizon Amphitheater
with Alison Krauss
Alpharetta, GA

May 22
State Farm Center
with Alison Krauss
Champaign, IL

May 23
KFC Yum Center
with Alison Krauss
Louisville, KY

October 12 (rescheduled from Jan 14)
E Center
Laughlin, NV

October 17 (rescheduled from Jan 10)
Graton Resort and Casino
with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Rohnert Park, CA

October 19, 20 (rescheduled from Jan 12, 13)
The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan
with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Las Vegas, NV

November 9th (rescheduled from Feb. 9)
IP Casino Resort
Biloxi, MS

November 10 (rescheduled from Feb 7)
Macon City Auditorium
with Los Lonely Boys
Macon, GA

November 12 (rescheduled from Feb 12)
Germain Arena
with Los Lonely Boys
Estero, FL

November 14 (rescheduled from Feb 10)
Marina Civic Center
with Los Lonely Boys
Panama City, FL

Have a Willie Nice Day

February 23rd, 2018

This day in Willie Nelson history: Best Country Vocal Performance: “Always on My Mind” (2/23/83)

February 23rd, 2018

On February 23, 1983, Willie Nelson wins Best Country Vocal Performance for ‘Always On My Mind.  The song won three times during the 25th annual Grammy awards including awards for songwriters Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher and Mark James earn Song of the Year.

Album Track listing

  1. “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” (Chips Moman, Dan Penn)
  2. “Always on My Mind” (Johnny Christopher, Mark James, Wayne Carson Thompson)
  3. “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, Matthew Fisher)
  4. “Let It Be Me” (Mann Curtis, Pierre Delanoë, Gilbert Bécaud)
  5. “Staring Each Other Down” (Chips Moman, Bobby Emmons)
  6. “Bridge over Troubled Water” (Paul Simon)
  7. “Old Fords and a Natural Stone” (Bobby Emmons, Chips Moman)
  8. “Permanently Lonely” (Willie Nelson)
  9. “Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning” (Gary P. Nunn)
  10. “The Party’s Over” (Willie Nelson)

February 23rd, 2018

Willie Nelson New York Times interview (Feb. 23, 1995)

February 23rd, 2018

Image result for new york times willie nelson


by Alex Witchel
February 23, 1995

Most men will tell you Willie Nelson is a hero. With a copy of his 1982 hit “Always on My Mind” and the phone number of a good florist, they can get away with murder. “Girl, I’m sorry I was blind,” indeed.

They learn from a master. Mr. Nelson, who is married to wife No. 4, may be most recognizable for his Pocahontas braids, but it’s those eyes that start the trouble. Even now, at 62, they are perfectly almond shaped, deep brown and, well, just deep. Look into them for too long and you may regret it.

Mr. Nelson’s misfortune in love may be the reason he can wail his songs about heartbreak so well. Not to mention write them. When he went home drunk and passed out cold for the thousandth time, his first wife sewed him into the bedsheets “buck naked,” as he likes to say, and piled his clothes and the kids into the car and left. It makes you wonder whom he really wrote “Crazy” about.

These days, though, Mr. Nelson insists, he’s a cheating heart no more. His newest album, “Healing Hands of Time” (EMI Liberty), is filled with classic love songs, his and other people’s, accompanied by a 63-piece orchestra. But life can be funny for a crooning cowboy. A new album means going on the road to sell it, so he has to sing his love songs to everyone but his wife, Anne Marie, back in Spicewood, Tex., for whom they are meant.

And being on the road again means living on his bus, Honeysuckle Rose II. The previous night, he played Syracuse; this night, in early February, the United States Military Academy.

At 5 P.M. it’s not quite dark outside, but it certainly is dark in the bus. Up front, there are built-in couches along the sides, and thanks to a satellite dish, CNN is on TV. At the back is the door to Mr. Nelson’s bedroom. In the middle is a small kitchen area with a cut watermelon in the sink. Mr. Nelson sits at the table wearing a sweatshirt, sweatpants and thick white socks. Behind him is what he calls the art museum, snapshots of his two youngest sons, Lucas, 6, and Micah, 5, and a drawing with the message “Hi, Dad From Lucas” surrounded by hearts. His hair, reddish-brown and finely sifted with gray, hangs loose down his back. And his face! It is marked with so many creases, hollows and furrows it looks almost geological. He sits quietly, watching, like a cornered animal that can’t decide if he should pounce, flee or purr.

How was Syracuse? “It was cold.”

What did he do today? “Slept till noon.”

Why did he make this new album? “It seemed like the thing to do.”

How’s his back? (He fractured it baling hay as a teen-ager.) “Let me tell you a strange story,” he says, suddenly animated, as if a quarter dropped into his slot. And with the passion of pain he starts his tale of woe and redemption, which culminates in Rolfing.

“My wife recommended it highly,” he says. “I heard it was painful, but I didn’t care. The first of 10 sessions fixed it.” He rests his thick hands on the table. His wedding band looks loose on his finger. That seems right.

It’s hot in here. Navy velvet curtains hang over the windows, and the dark brown paneling and dark carpet seem to soak up light. “It’s kind of like living in a submarine,” Mr. Nelson acknowledges, showing a small smile. “But I’m happy on the bus. Home is where you’re happy. It can be anywhere, out there playing music, wherever I’m at. I refuse to stay where I’m not happy, and if I can’t change it, because of bad vibes or whatever, there’s no reason to stay.”

“A lot of people get tired of the road,” he continues. “But as much as I enjoy being at home with the toys I have there, I still need to leave that and go play music. I have the best of two worlds, though it’s hard to balance them. They’re both fragile. There’s the desire to be where you are plus the desire to go back where you were.”

The phone rings. It’s his eldest daughter, Lana, 41.

“Hey, nothing. What do you know?” Mr. Nelson asks affectionately. “Oh, we’re traveling to the gig. West Point. Yes, the West Point. As opposed to the east point. I don’t know what we’re doing. We’re playing for the folks.”

He speaks so quietly, barely above a whisper, that it’s hard to conjure visions of his legendary temper. Does he still have one? “If I said I didn’t I’d be lying,” he says. “I don’t show it every time. At least I hope I don’t. People say about me, ‘He’s a tough old bird.’ I must be or I wouldn’t be here.”

He says he doesn’t know exactly how many albums he’s made. “Somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 to 100 legitimate albums, but there’s also bootleg.” From which he doesn’t make money, of course.

Money has been a loaded issue for Mr. Nelson since 1990, when the Internal Revenue Service seized his house and all his assets for nonpayment of $16.7 million in taxes. What happened, he says, was that he owed $2 million in taxes, and on advice of his accountants, Price Waterhouse, was told to borrow $12 million to invest in tax shelters so he wouldn’t have to pay the $2 million. The only problem, he says, was that, after the fact, the shelters were disallowed.

But the story has ended happily. He settled out of court with Price Waterhouse and paid back the Government. When his house was auctioned, a group of farmers bought it for him, grateful for the singer’s Farm Aid concerts, which have raised $12 million, so now he has it back. “There’s a lot of good people out there,” Mr. Nelson says simply.

So, why bother touring, especially if his debts are paid? “Well, I don’t know,” he says. “I seem to be happier when I’m working. I tend to get into trouble with too much time on my hands.”

Like what?

“Like you name it,” he shoots back.

He started working by the age of 5, picking cotton in Abbott, Tex. (When he was a toddler, his mother, a dancer, and his father, a musician, left him and his older sister, Bobbie, who plays keyboards in his band, to be raised by their grandparents.) He played his first professional date at 8, and as an adult sold vacuum cleaners door to door. After working as a disk jockey, he moved in the early 1960’s to Nashville, where he sold his songs and despaired of becoming a singer. The fact that he didn’t sound like anyone else was not an advantage at the time. Now, of course, his idiosyncratic phrasing and nasal twang could be copyrighted.

“I never pretended to have a great voice,” he says. “It works and I can carry a tune. If you have a good song, that’s about all that’s required.”

The new album has lots of good songs. “EMI Liberty, my new record label, said I should do an album of standards. Like ‘Crazy.’ ” He smiles. “I hadn’t been looking at those as standards.”

As a writer, Mr. Nelson has slowed down in recent years, though it’s hard to blame him. He says that between the mid-1950’s and mid-1970’s, he wrote about 2,000 songs.

“I went into the studio last week with my original band and a new songbook of mine,” he says. “We started on the first page, and in two days we did 11 segments. I want to do that with all my songs, the way I hear them and feel them now. People wouldn’t know but one or two of ’em.”

In this, his 54th year of performing, does he worry about the show-biz adage “No one is on top forever”? “That’s not my plan,” he says. “There’s a saying I could never decide was mine or Roger Miller’s. I decided I’d take credit for it: ‘I didn’t come here and I’m not leaving.’ ”

Very wise. Does that wisdom extend to fatherhood? He has had seven children in all, yet he has traveled his entire life, leaving home for vast stretches of time. His eldest son, Billy, who had been treated for alcohol abuse, committed suicide three Christmases ago. Should he have done anything differently?

“Well, you have all those guilts and regrets, but you can run yourself crazy,” he says quietly. “You’re not the same person now you were then, so why take responsibility for something you didn’t do?” When he lifts his eyes, the anguish in his face belies the slickness of the words.

The bus has parked, and he goes inside the Eisenhower Hall Theater for a rehearsal. He starts to sing, and his familiar voice lifts, the cry of an old soul who’s seen more than he’s wanted to. He is completely fallible, which is his charm. A frog prince who’d rather stay a frog.

A few cadets peer at him from the wings, while Larry Gorham, a former Hell’s Angel who is Mr. Nelson’s bodyguard, glares. “Be all that you can be,” he grumbles not-so-under his breath.

“Be nice,” Mr. Nelson calls out.

It’s only 7 P.M. Rehearsal is over, and the show’s not until 8. Mr. Nelson heads toward the bus. What’s he going to do now? He smiles.

“I’m gonna roll me up a big joint and smoke it.” Then he eats a plate of vegetables and settles back with some of the band to watch videos of himself, including one from Howard Stern’s cable-television show, in which he handily wins a joint-rolling contest. Everyone laughs. The feeling is easy, relaxed. You would never know that, a few yards away, 4,400 people are growing restless.

Toward the end of the tape, he goes into his bedroom and comes out with his hair braided (he does it himself). At 8:10 P.M. he walks backstage and picks up his guitar with no noticeable increase in energy. He keeps his world small, parking his living room just outside and walking in here now to play. He could be anywhere. On the other side of the curtain are howls and whoops as the lights go down. One member of the band asks, “Should we open with ‘Anchors Aweigh’?”

When the curtain rises and the flag of Texas unfurls behind them, though, they launch into “Whisky River,” their customary opening number. They’re all so used to each other, they’re like fingers on a hand. They just stand and play, with no videos or special effects.

But when Mr. Nelson launches into “Always on My Mind” the yelling accelerates. “My favorite song!” a man screams from the balcony. As Mr. Nelson sings, his energy is intense. He invests the words with all kinds of feeling, every bit he can muster. When he sings “Give me one more chance to keep you satisfied,”the meaning seems to switch and he’s no longer pleading with a woman but with the audience. He’s not young, he’s not pretty, he doesn’t have a fancy headset or smoke machines. He holds Trigger, his old, beaten guitar with a hole in it, and sings his heart. And it goes, the sound, the feeling, the plea, and hits the cadets and the rest full force, and they scream and holler and clap.

And then he asks, “Everybody doing all right out there?” And they roar, “Yeah,” back at him, and someone tosses a cadet’s hat onto the stage, which he puts on — a real sight with those braids.

And when he says, “Good night, everybody,” and the roar intensifies, they somehow find their way backstage, and they’re lining up outside near the bus, and everywhere he goes there are arms and hands and people shouting, “Willie!”

And he talks to each of them, one at a time, in no particular rush now to climb back on the bus and drive into the night. He’d like to stay awhile.

Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson

February 23rd, 2018

Happy Shoeshine Friday!

February 23rd, 2018

Willie Nelson: one hell of a bad ass

February 22nd, 2018



Willie Nelson is in many ways a microcosm of the American experience. He grew up during The Depression, had a rough and tumble youth, battled through familial and financial problems for years, struck it rich, and reformed himself from his violent past to become one of the world’s most well-known and greatest pacifists and advocates for the poor and social justice. Lots of wisdom can be gleaned about life from simply studying the life of Willie Nelson . And ultimately, he is undoubtedly one hell of a badass.

1. Surviving a Plane Crash

As told by Willie Nelson’s friend, professional golfer Larry Trader:

“Willie was flying in to the landing strip near Happy Shahan’s Western town that they used for the Alamo movie set. Happy is watching the plane coming in, knowing Willie is on it. The plane hits a big chughole in the strip and flips over on its side and crashes. Happy likes news and publicity, you know, so first thing he does is pick up the phone and call the radio stations, the TV, the newspapers. Happy says, ‘Willie Nelson’s plane just crashed. Y’all better hurry.’

“He jumped in a Jeep and drove out to the crash to pick up the remains. And here comes Willie and his pilot, limping up the road. The media people were arriving by then. They started firing questions at Willie. How did he survive? Was he dying? Was he even hurt? Willie smiles and says, ‘Why, this was a perfect landing. I walked away from it, didn’t I?’”

2. Recording Red Headed Stranger for $4,000

willie-nelson-red-headed-strangerThat’s right. Arguably the greatest, most influential album in the history of country music was recorded on a shoestring budget at the renegade and recently-opened Autumn Sound Studios in the Dallas suburb of Garland in January 1975. Autumn Sound engineer Phil York was trying to promote the new studio, knew Willie through harmonica player Mickey Raphael, and offered Willie a free day of recording. With complete creative control over the album as part of his new contract with Columbia Records, Willie set out to record a stripped-down conceptualized record that was like nothing the overproducing bean counters on Music Row had ever heard. Willie’s version of “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” became Willie’s first #1, and the album remains many critic’s pick for the best country record ever. Eat that Music Row.

3. Gun Battle at the Birmingham Coliseum

After playing a concert in Birmingham, Alabama in the late 70?s, Willie and the band found themselves in the middle of a gun battle in a six-story parking garage as they were unloading gear from the stage. Though the story involves Willie getting involved in the fracas with his own weaponry, it also illustrates Willie’s unique disposition as a peacemaker.

Willie Nelson & Poodie Locke

Willie Nelson & Poodie Locke

“All of a sudden we hear ‘Kaboom! Kaboom!’” Willie’s long-time stage manager “Poodie” Locke recalls. “It’s the sound of a .357 magnum going off in the parking garage. The echoes sound like howitzer shells exploding. It’s kind of semi-dark, and this guy comes blowing through this parking deck…now here comes this bitch with a fucking pistol. ‘Kaboom!’ She’s chasing this motherfucker. It sounds like a fucking war.”

At the time, Willie Nelson and most of his band and road crew carried pistols as a matter of habit. The scene became chaotic as the shooting happened right as the crowd from the show was filing out into the parking garage.

“People are piling out of the show and they start scattering,” Poodie continues. “Here come the cops from every direction. They’re flying out of their cars, hitting the parking deck, spread-eagling the whole crowd–’On the deck, motherfuckers!’–because the cops don’t know who is shooting at who…All these cops are squatting down in the doorjambs, turning people over, frisking them, aiming guns at everybody, just waiting for the next shot to be fired.”

“And here comes Willie. He walks off the bus wearing cutoffs and tennis shoes, and he’s got two huge Colt .45 revolvers stuck in his waist. The barrels are so long they stick out the bottom of his cutoffs. Two shining motherfucking  pistols in plain sight of a bunch of cops nervous as shit. Willie just walks over and says, ‘What’s the trouble?’ Well he’s got some kind of aura to him that just cools everything out. The cops put up their guns, the people climb off the concrete, and pretty soon Willie is signing autographs.”

farmaid4. Founding Farm Aid

Along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson founded the annual benefit concert in 1985 to help raise money for struggling farmers that has since become an American institution. Before a crowd of 80,000, 52 performers at the original Farm Aid raised $9 million for American farmers. Then Willie went to Capitol Hill with a group of struggling farmers to petition the government for aid. The end result was the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987 that helped many American farmers avoid foreclosure.

5. Bailing Dennis Hopper Out Of Jail in Taos, NM

Dennis was a part-time resident of the small northern New Mexico town of Taos. Back in the mid 70?s it was a hangout for country music types and Hollywood misfits like Hopper. It was also the scene of one of the most crazy country music stories involving Willie, Hopper, and of all people, golf pro Larry Trader.

dennis-hopper-taos-mug-shot“I hadn’t got a clue how Willie knew I was in jail in Taos. At the time I couldn’t imagine how Willie Nelson even knew who I was.

“In Taos I had gotten real drunk and proceeded to win a lot of acid in a poker game, so I swallowed the acid and saw weird dangerous shit going on, and I pulled my pistol out of my boot and shot up the plaza. I was ranting and raving in the jail, people were out to get me, man, and here came the sheriff saying Willie Nelson had come and paid my bill and was waiting outside. I was free to go with him.

“I freaked fucking out. Willie Nelson? Come on, man, who do you think you’re kidding? You’re gonna lure me out and yell jailbreak and blow my ass away! But I thought, hey, be cool, you are after all hallucinating all this. So I walked out of jail and got into Willie’s Mercedes with him and his wife Connie and his golf pro Larry Trader. We drove across the desert towards Las Vegas. Willie and Trader and I nearly drove Connie crazy with our laughing and shouting.”

6. Taking the Rap for Pot Bust in Texas

When Willie Nelson’s Honeysuckle Rose III was searched at the border patrol checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, Texas in November of 2010 and agents found 6 ounces of marijuana, anyone could have copped to the stash, or Willie could have pulled a “Do you know who I am ?!?”moment. But instead he offered his wrists to authorities, knowing that his arrest would prove the futility of the criminalization of marijuana that he’d been advocating against for many years.

Willie was booked into custody, a mug shot was taken, and he was later released on $2,500 bond. Eventually a plea deal was reached with prosecutors, and Willie paid a fine and spent 30 days on probation.

7. Dripping Springs Reunion and the 4th of July Picnics

Even though the events have many times been an annual financial bloodbath, Willie’s commitment to them has been steadfast, and they have become a Texas and American institution. It started with the Dripping Springs reunion in 1973, with the idea of putting on a “hillbilly Woodstock.” The Dripping Springs reunion featured Bill Monroe, Buck Owens, Charlie Rich, Dottie West, Roger Miller, Loretta Lynn, right beside Willie, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. Over the years the picnics have gone on to feature artists forgotten by Nashville and up-and-comers right beside big name talent. And because more times than not they have been losing propositions financially, it’s been Willie’s commitment that has kept them going.

8. Getting Lost in Baton Rouge

As told by Willie’s manager Mark Rothbaum

“Willie and I were at a hotel in Baton Rouge on the evening of a concert. We were on the twenty-third floor, and we could see the coliseum in a straight line from our windows. Looked like it was just right over there. So we decided we would run to the concert. Willie and I took off running through Baton Rouge after dark. We ran and kept on running through the neighborhoods, and we still weren’t arriving at the concert. After we had run ten miles, we decided we were totally lost. The gig was starting, and we had no idea where we were.

“Willie said, ‘I’ll just go up to that house and knock on the door and ask for help.’ I said, ‘You can’t knock on some stranger’s door.’

“He said, ‘I ain’t a stranger. I’m Willie Nelson.’”

9. “Shotgun Willie” & The Great Ridgetop Shootout

It was in the aftermath of an incident that would later be remembered as the “Great Ridgetop Shootout” that Willie Nelson got the nickname “Shotgun Willie.” Ridgetop was the house Willie lived in just outside of Nashville in the late 60?s. When it burned down in 1970, it stimulated Willie’s move back to Texas. In 1969, Willie and his first wife Martha separated, and his second wife Shirley moved into Ridgetop. Willie and Martha had three children, and right before Christmas in 1969, Willie’s youngest daughter Susie told Willie that his oldest daughter Lana was being physically assaulted by her husband Steve Warren.

shotgun-willie-shirt“I ran for my truck and drove to the place where Steve and Lana lived and slapped Steve around,”Willie recalls. “He really pissed me off. I told him if he ever laid a hand on Lana again, I would come back and drown his ass. No sooner did I get back to Ridgetop than here came Steve in his car, shooting at the house with a .22 rifle. I was standing in the door of the barn and a bullet tore up the wood two feet from my head. I grabbed an M-1 rifle and shot at Steve’s car. Steve made one pass and took off.”

But this wasn’t where the incident ended. Willie drove back to Steve and Lana’s to confront Steve again, but he was gone and had kidnapped their young son Nelson Ray. Lana also told Willie that Steve was looking to “get rid of him (Willie) as his top priority.” So what did Willie do? He drove back to Ridgetop and waited for him.

“Thinking Steve would come to Ridgetop to pick me off about dusk, I hid in the truck so he couldn’t tell if I was home. We laid a trap for him. I had my M-1 and a shotgun. He drove by the house, and I ran out the garage door. Steve saw me and took off. That’s when I shot his car and shot out his tire. Steve called the cops on me. Instead of explaining the whole damn mess, the beatings and the semi-kidnapping and shooting and all, I told the officers he must have run over the bullet. The police didn’t want to get involved in hillbilly family fights. They wrote down what I told them on their report and took off.”

10. His Own Town


That’s right. Willie Nelson has his own town. Well, sort of.

It’s called Luck, TX, and it was originally constructed as part of the set of the movie The Red Headed Stranger released in 1986 as a companion to Willie’s album of the same name. The town was originally called Willieville, and was constructed to be a replica of Driscoll, Montana. It sits across the street from Willie’s golf course about 30 miles outside of Austin. The remarkable thing about Luck is it’s not just a Hollywood facade, but a collection of real buildings that despite their purposefully rustic condition, are generally solid structures that could constitute a real old-time town, with a church, opera house, and various other buildings. And the town is still used upon occasion for movies, video shoots, and special events including an annual music showcase around South by Southwest.

And then of course, there was that time he smoked pot on top of The White House…but that’s another story.

Quotes taken from the autobiography Willie, by Willie Nelson with Bud Shrake.

Willie Nelson featured in “Celebrities That Served”, by Travis McVey

February 22nd, 2018

Willie Nelson with Jessica Simpson, USO tour in Germany (May 23, 2005)

Celebrities That Served by Travis McVey

As a veteran U.S. Marine and a Marine Guard under Present George H.W. Bush, Travis McVey is author of the book “Heroes of the Stage,” which profiles Country music artists who have served in the Military and the impact it has had on their careers, music and personal lives. The 284-page narrative was published by Hero Spirit.

Country Music Legend & USAF Veteran Willie Nelson


Willie Nelson was born April 30, 1933 in Abbott, Texas. His family was very musical and encouraged his talent as a child. Nelson first learned how to play music when his grandparents purchased mail order lessons and gave them to him at age six. It was by age seven when he had composed his very first song. Nelson had already joined a band by the time he was nine years old.

Nelson’s family owned a farm and his job was to pick cotton. Since he hated doing it so much, he decided to earn money in other ways. That included singing in local taverns for tips. In high school, Nelson toured with a band called the Bohemian Fiddlers, where his brother-in- law was a member.

Nelson graduated from high school in 1950. During this time, the Korean War had broken out and he decided to join the United States Air Force. He was stationed at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas. Willie had to leave the Air Force shortly afterward (9 months) because he became plagued by back problems and was diagnosed by a doctor with this problem.

Once he was released from the military, he attended Baylor University for two years studying agriculture. While he attended classes during the day, he was a DJ at night. On the weekends, he sang at clubs and honky tonks where he got lots of recognition for his talent. He quit school to focus solely on his music career that was taking off.

After he quit school, he continued to sing and write songs. In 1960, he was offered a contract with Pamper Music. He also joined Marine Corps Veteran Ray Price’s band the same year. Nelson wrote “Crazy” for Patsy Cline, “Pretty Paper” for Roy Orbison and “Hello Walls” for Faron Young during his time as a bassist for Price’s band. His first album was titled “And Then I Wrote” which was released in 1962. It was such a hit, RCA Records signed Nelson to their label in 1965. He was also invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.

Nelson was working on a new album for RCA in 1969, but Atlantic Records wanted to secure a new deal with him. Once the deal was negotiated, Nelson became the first country artist to sign with Atlantic Records. He began a new sound called Outlaw Country. In 1973, his album titled “Shotgun Willie” was released. It did not sell well, even though music critics liked the sound. Nelson released a few more albums before switching labels again. During the 1970s Nelson began the first of many collaborations with Waylon Jennings. They released an album called “Wanted! The Outlaws” in 1976, along with Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser.

The 1980s had several hit songs for Nelson and included  “Pancho & Lefty”, “On the Road Again” and “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”. In 1985, Nelson teamed up with Army Veteran Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Air Force Veteran Johnny Cash in the Highwaymen. Their album The Lost Highwaymen was a hit.

Nelson followed his friend Kris Kristofferson in to acting in the 1980s as well. He has had roles in several movies, but did not win awards for them. Some of his movies include The Electric Horsemen, Honeysuckle Rose, Surfer Dude and The Unforeseen. All in all, Nelson has appeared in over 100 movies.

Willie Nelson USAF Veteran/Farm Aid Founder

Nelson is an activist and has worked hard on many projects to better our country. One of his most important contributions has been the creation of Farm Aid, which started in 1985. Many of his friends signed on to perform during this multi-day music festival. The proceeds raised were used to help small family farmers in the Midwest from losing their farms. The festival was an annual event and is still held on a smaller scale today and has raised millions of dollars in much needed aid.

In 1990, the IRS and Nelson began a long and tenuous battle. They claimed he owed $32 million dollars in back taxes. Upon further investigation, Nelson’s managers did not pay the government and they squandered away a lot of his earnings. It took until 1993 to settle all of the cases and debt.

Country music star Toby Keith, checks out his new “Balls of the Eagle” t-shirt that was presented to him by Lt. Col. John Dunleavy, commander of 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), at Logistical Supply Area Anaconda, Iraq, on April 28, 2008. Keith visited the 2-320th FAR to meet with Soldiers and take part in a re-enlistment at the battalion headquarters. Photo by 1st Lt. Jonathan Springer

During the 1990s and in to the 2000s, Nelson has had success with duets and collaborations with many artists. He went to #1 with Toby Keith singing “Beer For My Horses” in 2003. It won Best Video in 2004 from the ACM Awards. He and Lee Ann Womack had a hit duet with “Mendocino County Line”. An album by the title “Outlaws & Angels” was released in 2004. It had duets and collaborations on it with artists such as Kid Rock, Rickie Lee Jones, Keith Richards, Joe Walsh, Merle Haggard, Al Green, Lee Ann Womack and Lucinda Williams. In 2008, Nelson worked with Snoop Dogg and created “My Medicine”. Nelson has recorded close to 300 albums and wrote more than 2,500 songs as a solo artist and with other individuals.

During his career, Nelson has received many accolades. In 2005, 49 miles of State Highway 130 are named The Willie Nelson Highway. He belongs to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. He is a trustee to the Dayton International Peace Museum, which is in honor of his activism for tolerance of all people. Nelson has won 9 Grammy Awards, 8 CMA Awards, 7 American Music Awards and 5 ACM Awards. He was voted in to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993. He was inducted in to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001.

Nelson is a regular performer on the USO tour. He and other acts go overseas and perform for the troops in war torn countries and on military bases around the world.

Willie Nelson USAF Veteran/Country Music Legend
Willie Nelson USAF Veteran/Country Music Legend

During his life, Nelson has been married four times and has seven children. In the year 2004, Nelson and his wife became partners in an alternative fuel venture. They built two bio-diesel plants that produce fuel made from vegetable oil.

His first autobiography, which is self-titled, was released in 1988. A second autobiography called An Epic Life was released in 2008. Willie Nelson is one of the most familiar faces associated with Country Music and has contributed so much to the arts and entertainment of our great Nation. He has given so much of himself to others and brought much needed attention and change to some of the problems of our Country and continues that today. Willie has served our Nation in and out of uniform and supported and entertained our men and women who serve and is one of the Heroes Of Music…


Heroes Of The Stage/Country Serving Country by Travis McVey. A book about all the great country music artists that served in the military. Get your copy today at www.heroesofthestage.com

February 22nd, 2018

Willie Nelson on the Today Show (2/22/08)

February 22nd, 2018

Willie Nelson was a guest on the “Today” show, on NBC on February 22, 2008

Willie Nelson, “On the Street Where You Live”

February 22nd, 2018

Willie Nelson honored with his own street name in Austin (May 2010)

February 22nd, 2018

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell shows a “Willie Nelson Blvd.” sign  as he called for support for honoring the music icon.


AUSTIN — Austin has no “Whiskey River,” but it will have a downtown street named for Willie Nelson.

The Austin City Council voted Thursday to add the iconic Texas balladeer’s name to Second Street downtown.

The Austin American-Statesman reports the city will install “Willie Nelson Boulevard” along the street. The street will retain Second Street as its formal name, but businesses and residents along the street will be able to receive mail using the new name.

Meanwhile, the nonprofit Capital Area Statues group is raising money to put a life-size statue of Nelson on Second Street in front of the “Austin City Limits” studio.

Nelson has lived in the Austin area for nearly 40 years.


Willie Nelson at the Fillmore (February 21, 22, 2001)

February 22nd, 2018

February 21st, 2018