Archive for the ‘This Day in Willie Nelson History’ Category

Willie Nelson on Real Time with Bill Maher (January 24, 2013)

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

“There has never been a recorded instance of an overdose of marijuana. I have living proof sitting beside me.” — Bill Maher

“Wanted the Outlaws” goes double platinum (January 21, 1985)

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

in Willie Nelson history: “Wanted the Outlaws” goes douple platinum (January 21, 1985)

on January 21, 1985: “Wanted: The Outlaws,” featuring Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser, certifies double-platinum, along with the “Waylon & Willie” album.

In 1976, the album was the first country album to receive the new platinum certification, signifying one million units shipped.

wanted
  1. My Heroes Have Always
  1. My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys (Waylon)
  2. Honky Tonk Heroes (Waylon)
  3. I’m Looking for Blue Eyes (Jessi)
  4. Suspicious Minds (Waylon and Jessi)
  5. Good Hearted Woman (Waylon and Willie)
  6. Heaven or Hell (Waylon and Willie
  7. Me and Paul (Willie)
  8. Yesterday’s Wine (Willie
  9. T for Texas (Tompall)
  10. Put Another Log on the Fire (Tompall)

It’s unfortunate that there still has to be a sampler, or primer, or golden book of some of the best singers working anywhere, but apparently not everyone has gotten the message yet. Maybe this album can introduce you to some people you would have liked to have known sooner but just didn’t have the opportunity to meet.

These are some special people, very special. They’ve been waiting in the wings for years, too many years, to assume their proper places in the structure of American Music. When it became apparent to them that their proper places were perhaps being unduly delayed becasue of certain resentments harbored against them because of their real and imagined unconventionality, they — by God — decided to take matters into their own hands. There resulted a rather difficult period of figurative doors being smashed and general confusion and namecalling in Nashville. When the smoke cleared and the fallout returned to earth, there was effected a major shift in country music. “Progressive Country” (for want of a better term) was on the map, and was here for good. And these are the people responsibile for that. Call them outlaws, call them innovators, call them revolutionaries, call them what you will. They’re just some damned find people who are also some of the most gifted songwriters and singers anywhere.

They are musical rebels, in one sense, in that they challenged the accepted way of doing things. Like all pioneers, they were criticized for that but time has vindicated them.

Tompall Glaser was one of the first in Nashville to chart his own musical course and it was lonely for him for years but now he is beginning to receive the recognition due him.

Waylon Jennings, as the most visible of the progressive country pack, has been quietly fighting for years in his own way for acceptance. Both he and Jessi Colter (who, coincidentally is also known as Mrs. Waylon Jennings) were authentically ahead of thier time. Now, the times have caught up with them.

That streak of rugged individualism that is the unifying bond for these musical outlaws is nowhere more evident than in Willie Nelson’s life and times. Unquestionably one of the finest songwriters who ever lived, Willie was known for years only to other writers and to a slowly growing cult of followers. All that has changed now. “Miracles appear in the strangest of places,” Willie sings in Yesterday’s Wine,” one of my favorites from his collection of remarkable songs, and that’s true. When I first started keeping track of Willie and Waylon and Jessi and Tompall, I (along with their other cult followers) felt almost responsible for them since they weren’t that well known to the public and the music industry as a whole didn’t like to acknowledge them. They didn’t wear Nudie suits and thier music didn’t confirm to the country norm of songs of divorce and alcohol and life’s other little miseries. The only thing that worried me was that I knew these people were born scrappers and really loved fighting for acceptance. What would happen to them, I wondered, when they inevitably won (as I knew they would)? Would they like so many who struggle just for the sake of the struggle, grow fat and lazy when they grew successful?

There was no need to worry. This last year each of them has gotten better, writing better, and singing with breathtaking confidence.

They’re the cutting edge of a brand of American music that I find the most satisfying development in popular music in the past decade. It’s not country and it’s not country-rock, but there’s no real need to worry about labeling it. It’s just damned good music that’s true and honest and you can’t ask for more than that.

Chet Flippo
Associate Editor
Rolling Stone

This day in Willie Nelson History: “Wanted: The Outlaws” (January 12, 1976)

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

On March 30, 1976, the collaborative album “Wanted: The Outlaws”–featuring Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and Jessie Colter– is certified gold.

As Willie Nelson’s career gathered momentum and he began getting a national audience, Waylon Jennings and his producer/cohort Tompall Glaser noticed. Waylon was well on the way to success but so far he had experienced nothing approaching the magnitude of Willie’s accomplishments.

Nashville recording executives were quick to realize that Willie had indeed tapped into something big with this new, younger audience he had discovered. RCA vice-president Jerry Bradley was the first to hit upon a concept for an LP that might allow Waylon to penetrate this new market. Why not put together an album that would combine the talents of these “outlaws” — as they had come to be known for thier casual lifestyles and their insistence on working outside the traditional political system of the country music industry.

“Waylon was booking out as the Outlaws, he and Tompall and Jessi and Willie occasionally,” Bradley recalled to Martha Hume, “and Willie had just had a hit [“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”], and Jessi had just had a hit [“I’m not Lisa”], and Waylon had been having all kinds of hits, and none really as big as Willie or Jessi. So I told Waylon I thought we ought to do this Outlaws package and make his picture a little bigger and boost his image a little bit. He said, “Well, I wish you’d use Tompall’, I said, ‘Fine, if we can work things out with MGM [Tompall Glaser’s record label at the time], I’ll be glad to use Tompall.’”

Eight of the eleven tracks on the 1976 Wanted: The Outlaws LP were previously released material. Included on the album were two songs by Waylon, two by Willie, two by Jessi, one duet with Waylon and Jessi (a moving version of “Suspicous Minds”), and two duets with Willie and Waylon.

Most outstanding with the Outlaws LP is the ingenious packaging. The front cover is designed like an old wild west, “Wanted Dead or Alive” poster, and painted in sepia. When “Good Hearted Woman” was released as the LP’s first single, it shot to the number one spot, and stayed there for weeks. It sold phenomenally well; within a few months it had passed the million sales mark, became the first platinum country album and the biggest selling album in Nashville’s history.

On the strenth of the Outlaws LP, Waylon and Willie swept the 1976 Country Music Association Awards, winning Best Single (“Good Hearted Woman”), Best Album, and best Vocal Duo (“Good Hearted Woman”). Waylon did not appear to pick up the awards but Willie showed up at the normally stodgy, tuxedoed affair, all smiles, and bounded on to the stage to accept their trophies in his customary sneakers, head band, and flannel shirt.

“I think people in Nashville know less about what country is than anybody,” Jennings told John Rockwell of the New York Times. “They limit themselves… If we fought for anything, it was the right to be ourselves and not to be typecast.”

 The full story in words and pictures of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson by Bob Allen

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Stardust” certified quadruple-platinum (January 9, 1990)

Saturday, January 9th, 2021
On January 9th, 1990, Willie Nelson’s “Stardust” album was certified quadruple-platinum.
  1. Stardust
  2. Georgia on My Mind
  3. Blue Skies
  4. All of Me
  5. Unchained Melody
  6. September Song
  7. On the Sunny Side of the Street
  8. Moonlight in Vermont
  9. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
  10. Someone to Watch over Me
  11. Scarlett Ribbons
  12. I Can See Clearly Now

Willie Nelson, in Houston (January 9, 2010)

Saturday, January 9th, 2021

Photo: David Clements

Willie Nelson and Family at Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix (January 4, 2015)

Monday, January 4th, 2021
phoenix

Willie Nelson and Lukas Nelson, “Rainy Day Blues”

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020

Willie Nelson & Family (Dec. 29, 1977)

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020

December 29, 1977
Convention Center
Pine Bluff, AR

We had an opportunity to visit with Willie before the concert began and we are happy to report his ankle is doing fine and he looked great.  In keeping with the winter weather, Willie had exchanged his T-shirt for a plaid flannel shirt and his tennis shoes for lace-up hiking boots. 

Willie showed us a turquoise watch band he had, quote “Took right off ole’ Johnny Rodriguez’s wrist”, and it’s a beauty.  Willie said he had a good feeling about this tour and I think he is right, for the night before, at the Tarrant County Convention Center, Ft. Worth, TX, 10,000 fans gathered to hear Willie and Family and this night in spite of heavy ground fog and a weather forecast calling for sleet, the Convention Center at Pine Bluff was filled to capacity.

Jerry Jeff Walker got the evening off to a great start with “Bo Jangels”, “L.A. Freeway”, “Desperados” and “Redneck MOther” among many others.  The crowd brought Jerry Jeff back for an encore that closed with “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”

Willie, in his usual great form, and the fans on their feet from the very beginning with “Whiskey River”, “Hello Walls”, “Funny How Time Slips Away”, the “Redheaded Stranger” album, “Me and Paul”, “If You’ve Got the Money”, “Good Hearted Woman”, “Until I Gain Control Again”, Leon Russell’s “My Song” and many, many more ending with the great gospel songs, “Uncloudy Day” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”  Willie didn’t get a chance to leave the stage.  These fans were not ready for that and they let him know it with shouts of, “More Willie”, “We love you”, “Willie”, bringing him back for an encore of “Whiskey RIver” once more “Milk Cow Blues” and “Goodnight Irene.”  The Hat swapping had been as brisk as the pace set by Willie and Family’s music and  fans were all around the stage by the end of the concert.  Although Willie’s bus was only a few feet from the stage steps, it took him some time to get back to it as he stopped to sign autographs and talk with the fans.  A great evening, thanks to Willie and Family.

— Jan Coney

Willie Nelson Live in Concert (Opry House, December 28, 1982)

Monday, December 28th, 2020

This day in Willie Nelson history, “Stardust” recorded (December 11, 1977)

Friday, December 11th, 2020

 While it wasn’t released until April 1978, tracks to Willie Nelsons award winning album “Stardust” were recorded on this day in 1977. 

Produced by Booker T. Jones, all the songs on the album consist entirely of pop standards that Nelson picked from among his favorites. Executives of Columbia Records were not convinced that the album would sell well, because the project was a radical departure from his earlier success in the outlaw movement.

When released, Stardust was on Billboard’s Country Album charts for ten years – from its release until 1988. 

This day in Willie Nelson history: Grand Ole’ Opry Debut (Nov. 28, 1964)

Saturday, November 28th, 2020
Willie Nelson on 11/28/1964

Willie Nelson, November 28, 1964
photo by Les Leverett

www.WillieNelsongeneralstore.com

“We’re very proud at the Willie Nelson Museum is to announce an exciting new Les Leverett photographic exhibit opening very soon – an historic country music photographic collection taken by long-time Grand Ole Opry photographer and Nashville resident Les Leverett.

Les Leverett’s photographs have been seen on hundreds of album covers, books, magazines, newspapers and video. Les’ photographic career at the Grand Ole Opry spanned more than 32 years. His love of the Grand Ole Opry and its many stars are evident throughout the images captured through the lens of his trusty Nikon camera.

On November 28, 1964, Willie Nelson made his Grand Ole Opry debut, as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly Saturday night country music radio program broadcast live on WSM radio in Nashville, Tennessee. It is the oldest continuous radio program in the United States, having been broadcast on WSM since November 28, 1925. It is also televised and promotes live performances both in Nashville and on the road.

History

The Grand Ole Opry started out as the WSM Barn Dance in the new fifth floor radio station studio of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company. The featured performer on the first show was Uncle Jimmy Thompson, a fiddler who was then 77 years old. The announcer was program director George D. Hay, known on the air as “The Solemn Old Judge.” He was only 30 at the time and was not a judge, but was an enterprising pioneer who launched the Barn Dance as a spin-off of his National Barn Dance program at WLS Radio in Chicago, Illinois.

Some of the bands regularly featured on the show during its early days included the Possum Hunters, the Fruit Jar Drinkers, the Crook Brothers and the Gully Jumpers. They arrived in this order. However, Judge Hay liked the Fruit Jar Drinkers and asked them to appear last on each show because he wanted to always close each segment with “red hot fiddle playing.” They were the second band accepted on the “Barn Dance.” And, when the Opry began having square dancers on the show, the Fruit Jar Drinkers always played for them.

In 1926, Uncle Dave Macon, a Tennessee banjo player who had recorded several songs and toured the vaudeville circuit, became its first real star. The name Grand Ole Opry came about in December, 1927. The Barn Dance followed NBC Radio Network’s Music Appreciation Hour, which consisted of classical music and selections from grand opera. Their final piece that night featured a musical interpretation of an onrushing railroad locomotive. In response to this Judge Hay quipped, “Friends, the program which just came to a close was devoted to the classics.

Doctor Damrosch told us that there is no place in the classics for realism. However, from here on out for the next three hours, we will present nothing but realism. It will be down to earth for the ‘earthy’.” He then introduced the man he dubbed the Harmonica Wizard — DeFord Bailey who played his classic train song “The Pan American Blues”. After Bailey’s performance Hay commented, “For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on we will present the ‘Grand Ole Opry.’” The name stuck and has been used for the program since then.

As audiences to the live show increased, National Life & Accident Insurance’s radio venue became too small to accommodate the hordes of fans. They built a larger studio, but it was still not large enough. The Opry then moved into then-suburban Hillsboro Theatre (now the Belcourt), then to the Dixie Tabernacle in East Nashville and then to the War Memorial Auditorium, a downtown venue adjacent to the State Capitol. A twenty-five cent admission began to be charged, in part an effort to curb the large crowds, but to no avail. In 1943, the Opry moved to the Ryman Auditorium.

On October 2, 1954, a teenage Elvis Presley made his first (and only) performance there. Although the public reacted politely to his revolutionary brand of rockabilly music, after the show he was told by one of the organizers that he ought to return to Memphis to resume his truck-driving career, prompting him to swear never to return. Ironically, years later Garth Brooks commented in a television interview that one of the greatest thrills of playing the Opry was that he got to play on the same stage Elvis had.

The Ryman was home to the Opry until 1974, when the show moved to the 4,400-seat Grand Ole Opry House, located several miles to the east of downtown Nashville on a former farm in the Pennington Bend of the Cumberland River. An adjacent theme park, called Opryland USA, preceded the new Opry House by two years. Due to sagging attendance, the park was shuttered and demolished after the 1997 season by the Opry’s current owner, Gaylord Entertainment Company. The theme park was replaced by the Opry Mills Mall. An adjacent hotel, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, is the largest non-gambling hotel in North America and is the site of dozens of conventions annually.

Still, the Opry continues, with hundreds of thousands of fans traveling from around the world to Nashville to see the music and comedy on the Opry in person.

Willie Nelson and Family at Billy Bob’s Texas (November 28, 2015)

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

photo:  Janis Tillerson

Willie Nelson: Remember Me Vol. I (new album out November 21, 2011)

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

Remember Me
Sixteen Tons
Why Baby, Why
Today I Started Loving You Again
I’m Movin’ On
That Just About Does It
This Old House
Sunday Morning Coming Down
Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette
Slowly
Satisfied Mind
Roly Poly
Release Me
Ramblin’ Fever

Elegant and enduring endeavors are often the simplest, and so it is with Remember Me, Vol. 1 as one of America’s most revered country music icons sings a collection of the genre’s most definitive songs. Willie Nelson hand-picked the collection’s 14 songs from among the top Billboard hits of the last 70 years.

Artists and songwriters reflected in Nelson’s versions of their songs include Ernest Tubb, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Rosemary Clooney, Porter Wagoner and Ray Price. The first volume, out Nov. 21, is drawn from Nelson’s sessions with longtime friend and producer James Stroud, which yielded more than 30 songs. Remember Me, Vol. 2 is scheduled to be released next year.

In addition to Nelson’s incomparable vocal stylings, each track benefits from the work of Nashville’s top musicians in a band that features Eddie Bayers (drums), David Hungate (bass), Brent Mason (electric guitar), Biff Watson (acoustic guitar), Mickey Raphael (harmonica), Sonny Garrish (steel guitar), John Hobbs (piano/keyboards), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle/mandolin) and Wes Hightower and Cindy Walker (background vocals). Jerry Puckett and Chris Collins also guest on the sessions — www.musicnewsnashville.com

Willie Nelson in Concert (November 21)

Saturday, November 21st, 2020
ericcamp

This day in Willie Nelson History: Mickey Mouse Turns 50 Celebration (November 19, 1978)

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

On November 19, 1978, Willie Nelson joined others to wish Mickey Mouse Happy 50th birthday, on a televised special. Other guest appearance on the show were made by: Gerald Ford, Billy Graham, Lawrence Welk, Gene Kelly, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Edgar Bergen, Jodie Foster, Goldie Hawn, Eva Gabor, Anne Bancroft, Jo Anne Worley, and Burt Reynolds.