Archive for April, 2010
Happy Birthday to NORML Advisory Board Member, Willie Nelson, from Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director
Best wishes and happy travels to one of Americaâ€™s great authors of music, masters of the performance stage and American highways.
The cannabis law reform movement has never had a better, more honest or longer-serving goodwill ambassador for cannabis consumers as well as a dedicated proponent of hemp as an industrial crop that should be within the ambit of choices for the American farmer. Even on the rare occasion that Willie has been arrested on cannabis prohibition-related charges, the arresting law enforcement officers involved have oddly been embarrassed, giddy and ultimately honored to have the opportunity to meet Willie in person.
On one occasion in Texas in 1995, Willie was arrested for possessing a couple of hand-rolled cigarettes that just happen to consist of cannabis rather than tobacco, and in a totally unlikely scenario the local sheriff was the individual who bailed him out!
To the man who once smoked a joint on the roof of the White House and has donated the proceeds from events like the 2007 Austin Freedom Festival to support cannabis law reform advocacy, on behalf of NORML’s nationwide membership and chapters, as well as the board of directors, thanks for all your help and support for too many years.
Happy 77th Birthday Willie!
I shot the above photo of Willie Nelson’s monogramed new balance shoes during a concert- assignment for the Dallas Morning News in 2003.
Four Northeast bands will celebrate Willie Nelson’s 77th birthday at New York’s this Friday, April 30. Willie Nelson’s Psychedelic Birthday Bash will bring together New York’s Leroy Justice, Elizabeth, NJ’s BuzzUniverse and Syracuse NY’s Tim Herron Corporation, among others. Each group will perform a set of its own material, as well as at least one Nelson original. Noted NYC taper Scott Bernstein will spin Willie Nelson classics between each set.
by Linda Cain
“Happy birthday, Willie!” reads the huge banner made from bedsheets and hung from the balcony of St. Louis’ Keil Auditorium. It was four days before Willie would turn 45 years young (he was born in Abbott, Texas on April 30, 1933) and the celebrating had already begun.
Willie’s fans throng to the stage, foregoing their $7 – $10 seats to stand for the entire show, just to be near their idol. At his sneakered feet they shower gifts, flowers and hats of all descriptions. A tall man stretches upwards and hands Willie a half-full bottle of Jack Daniels. Willie chugs it. The audience hoots and hollers.
Removing his beaded Medicine Man hat, Willie replaces it with a ten-gallon Stetson and elicits unanimous cheers. Someone tosses their own cowboy hat at him. Willie smiles, picks it up, autographs it and hands back the treasure.
Many fans try to stand on each other’s shoulders to climb onstage. Two adoring, denim-clad females actually make it up, on separate occasions. Each time, roadies are forced to interrupt the ladies’ lengthy kisses and tight embraces. In order for the show to continue, the women are literally peeled off Willie.
His reaction? “Oh, I love it,” he admits after the show, while signing autographs for lucky fans who managed to sneak backstage. ‘The girls are the best part,” he adds.
Willie poses for pictures and a teenaged cowboy approaches the stage from below in the empty auditorium He hollers to get Willie’s attention. Willie sees him, smiles and waves. “Hey, Willie! We love you man” is the response.
Willie Nelson loves his fans as much as they love him. The Rollin’ Smoke Review (no kidding, it’s stenciled on their equipment) has been hoping to rent a huge barge, float up and down the Mississippi and pull into harbors for free shows along the way. Lead guitarist Jody Payne came up with the idea and has been trying to put his plan into action with no luck. “There’s just no way,’ he explained. “I was told there would be problems with crowd control. And it would cost too much money.” They are still open for ideas. “We’d really love to do it,” he adds.
Crowd control has become a problem, ever since Willie started packing them in, 80,000 strong, at his annual Austin picnics. This summer, Willie will hold several picnics in different parts of the country to try and spread the good times around a bit. Renowned British guitarist Eric Clapton had expressed a desire to open one of Willie’s picnics, but it is doubtful the two will be able to coordinate schedules, according to Payne.
“The idea of having the picnic goes back to the outdoor country music festivals,” Payne relates. Only now they bring beer and dope instead of just chicken and ribs in their baskets.”
Like their hero, Willie’s fans are known for their partying. “Do you know that every town we’ve been in, for a week solid before Willie’s birthday, they have had a party for us?” Payne announces. Willie’s personal manager and confidant, known to all as “Snake,” joins the birthday talk. “Usually we try to hit Willie with a cake,” explains the tall, slinky sidekick. “We always play Baton Rouge on his birthday. Last year we tried to hit him with a cake the size of a bed. We carried it onstage and were about to heave it at him, but he ran underneath it.”
Payne and I discuss Willie’s interests, which include reincarnation, yoga, martial arts, postive thinking and Edgar Cayce. I jokingly tell him: “Willie seems to be from another world.” Payne wholeheartedly agrees. “Yes, I think he is from another world. He’s the smartest man I’ve ever seen. He really is.” At that moment, Willie climbs aboard.
His presence is taken for granted by the crew, who are busy celebrating his birthday, early. As he slowly heads toward the remaining empty seats at the back of the bus, a joint waved in his path brings him to a halt.
Happy Birthday, Willie Nelson!
Some reports show Willie’s birthday as being on the 30th of April, but daughter Lana tells this story. I say, start celebrating early and carry it through the weekend!
“Dad celebrated his birthday on the 29th of April until he was 18 years old and went into the Air Force. He had to finally get a birth certificate and it said he was born on the 30th. Not to argue with the government we celebrated his birthday on the 30th for about 40 years
One day while visiting with his cousin, who was there the night he was born, Mildred said no, he WAS in fact born a few minutes before midnight on the 29th and Dr. Simms didn’t record the birth until after midnight. As it turns out we get TWO days to shower Dad with love and tell him how much he means to us.”
Willie Nelson reports that he was born a few minutes before midnight on April 29th, but somehow it got recorded that he was born on April 30th. I say, celebrate both days!