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

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Stardust” released (4/19/1978)

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

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On April 19, 1978, Columbia Records released Willie Nelson’s album, “Stardust.”

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

http://blogcritics.org

by Glen Boyd

Over the short course of the history of popular music (at least as we define it today in the mostly American sense), there are but a handful of artists who stand out as truly iconic figures.

These are those rare artists whose appeal transcends boundaries both artistic and generational. Gershwin, Berlin, Sinatra, and Bennett certainly all fall into this category. A decent argument could be mounted that the likes of Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Johnny Cash, and even Bob Dylan as well.

There are unique points in time where a song, an album, or an artist changes the way that the game is played forever. And for my money, Willie Nelson is a guy who did exactly that with his landmark 1978 album Stardust.

In 1977, when Willie first informed the executive brass at Columbia’s country division in Nashville of his intent to record an album of pop standards from the Great American Songbook — produced by Booker T, of “Green Onions” fame with the MGs no less — I can almost imagine their collective gasp of horror.

Willie had already changed the rules once, practically inventing the seventies “outlaw country” genre with his collaborations with fellow malcontent Waylon Jennings, and on his own 1975 classic Red Headed Stranger. But this was something else entirely.

If Willie was already a legend at the time, Stardust would forever cement his status as an icon. The album had a run on the Billboard charts which at the time was simply unprecedented for a country artist. It spent ten and a half years dominating the country charts, and 117 weeks on the Top Pop Albums side. Long before the days of Garth, Kenny, and the rest, this was a feat that was nothing short of astounding. The album is five times platinum, and remains a strong catalog seller to this day.

don’t have to tell you how timeless the music that Willie recorded on this original 1978 classic is. Or at least I shouldn’t have to.

Stardust is worth its weight in gold for Willie’s timeless takes on both the title track and “Unchained Melody” alone. On the latter, Willie strips down the symphonic blast of the version Phil Spector produced for the Righteous Brothers’ classic than it is  to a simple, plaintive sort of plea, anchored by that unremarkable, yet unmistakable voice.

As unique as Willie’s lonely voice is, the sound he gets from that beat up old guitar is likewise unmistakably his own. Willie’s guitar hero, flamenco jazzman Django Reinhardt, would definitely be proud. And while Ray Charles version of “Georgia On My Mind” may be the definitive blueprint, Willie’s take on Stardust comes damned close.

Willie’s visits to the Great American Songbook have remained a recurring theme throughout his career, and on the Stardust (30th Anniversary Legacy Edition), the second disc explores those from the years 1976 to 1990. The highlights here include Willie’s take on Louis Armstrong’s classic “What A Wonderful World,” as well as a trio of standards recorded with the great Leon Russell for the 1979 album One For The Road.

The way Willie Nelson wears his inspirations ” which, outside of country and bluegrass, range from ragtime to rock to jazz to R&B on his sleeve, especially on this seminal album, is what makes this American original the true icon that he is. Seriously, when it comes to Americana, this guy’s face belongs on Mount Rushmore.

This day in Willie Nelson history: Farm Aid IV (April 7, 1990)

Monday, April 7th, 2014

On April 7, 1990, Willie Nelson hosted Farm Aid IV in Indianapolis. Elton John dedicates “Candle In The Wind” to AIDS patient Ryan White, who dies that night. Also on hand: Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Dwight Yoakam, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Kris Kristofferson, Jackson Browne, John Mellencamp and Neil Young.

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Selling out in 90 minutes, Farm Aid’s fourth concert in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 7 brought 70 artists together with farmers, environmental and consumer advocates. A new message emerged from that effort: the well-being of our land, food and water supply depends on a network of family farmers who care about how our food is grown.

The concert was televised live on The Nashville Network, and a two-hour highlight was re-broadcast to ten million viewers on CBS. In additional to Willie Nelson & Family, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, the musical line-up included Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, Jakcson Brown, Elton John, Don Henley, Dwight Yoakam, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Crosby Stills & Nash, and Garth Brooks. Elton John dedicates “Candle In The Wind” to AIDS patient Ryan White, who dies that night.

Willie Nelson and Kimmie Rhodes perform “Just One Love” live at the Farm Aid concert in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 7th, 1990. Farm Aid was started by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985 to keep family farmers on the land and has worked since then to make sure everyone has access to good food from family farmers. Dave Matthews joined Farm Aid’s board of directors in 2001.

For more information about Farm Aid, visit: http://farmaid.org

This day in Willie Nelson history: Dripping Springs Reunion (3/17/1972)

Monday, March 17th, 2014

drippingsprings

On March 17, 1972, Willie Nelson performed in Dripping Springs, Texas, along with Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Roy Acuff, Buck Owens, Kris Kristofferson, Tex Ritter and Tom T. Hall.

This day in Willie Nelson history: ‘My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys’ #1

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

heroes3

On March 8, 1980, Willie Nelson’s “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” reached #1 on the Billboard country charts.

This day in Willie Nelson history: First Highwayman Tour begins (3/3/1990)

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

highwayman

On March 3, 1990, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson perform at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at the Astrodome, kicking off their first concert tour as the Highwaymen

.highwaymenposterjuul

 

This isn’t from that show, but one of my faves

This day in Willie Nelson History: Mardi Gras! (February 26, 2006)

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

On February 26, 2006, Willie Nelson rode in the Krewe of Bacchus Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans as Grand Marshall. Willie Nelson and Family performed that night at the Bacchus Ball.

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This day in Willie Nelson History: 2002 Olympics Closing Ceremony

Monday, February 24th, 2014

On February 24, 2002, Willie Nelson performed “Bridge Over Troubled Water” during the closing ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Martina McBride and Donny and Marie Osmond also performed at the ceremonies.

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

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

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) – 2:58
  2. “Always on My Mind” (Johnny Christopher, Mark James, Wayne Carson Thompson) – 3:34
  3. “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, Matthew Fisher) – 4:01
  4. “Let It Be Me” (Mann Curtis, Pierre Delanoë, Gilbert Bécaud) – 3:33
  5. “Staring Each Other Down” (Chips Moman, Bobby Emmons) – 2:16
  6. “Bridge over Troubled Water” (Paul Simon) – 4:39
  7. “Old Fords and a Natural Stone” (Bobby Emmons, Chips Moman) – 2:33
  8. “Permanently Lonely” (Willie Nelson) – 2:41
  9. “Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning” (Gary P. Nunn, Donna Ciscle) – 4:22
  10. “The Party’s Over” (Willie Nelson) – 2:52


This day in Willie Nelson history: “King of the Hill” (February 16, 1996)

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Willie Nelson made a special guest voice appearance as himself on the ‘King of the Hill’ episode ‘Hank’s Got the Willies’ which aired Sunday, Feb. 16, 1996 on FOX.

Hank’s Got The Willies
Episode KH105

Bobby attempts to make amends after he accidentally wallops Hank’s idol, Willie Nelson, in the head with a golf club.

Hank catches Bobby furiously windmilling his beloved Guild guitar, “Betsy.” Bobby explains that he was playing the instrument with a piece of cheese, like his favorite comedian, Celery Head. After examining the guitar, Hank realizes his son chipped Betsy’s bridge. The next day, Bobby crashes Hank’s lawn mower into the front of his truck. Shortly thereafter, the boy uses Hank’s pitching wedge to hit clumps of dog excrement. When Hank tells his wife that their son seems bent on destroying everything he owns, Peggy suggests he take Bobby golfing. At first, Hank dismisses the idea outright. But when Bobby tells his father that his two heroes are Gameboy champ Eddie Stillson, and Howard Adderly, the father of bizarre worm-child Jason Adderly, Hank decides he needs to take his son golfing immediately.

Before he takes his son golfing, Hank drives Betsy to a local guitar shop. Along the way, Hank tries to think of a suitable hero for Bobby. Hank tells his son that his own idol has always been Willie Nelson, as he was born in Texas, plays the guitar, and loves to golf. After dropping Betsy off for repairs, Hank joins Dale, Bill and Boomhauer for a game of golf. Bobby pulls his father’s club from a bag and chips a ball right into a cup. Impressed, Hank allows Bobby to tee-off on the next hole. Bobby takes a mighty swing…and lets go of the club, which gracefully tumbles through the air until it strikes another golfer in the head. The foursome rush to the hapless victim’s side, only to discover the man is none other than Hank’s hero, Willie Nelson.

After apologizing for the accident, Hank asks Nelson for his autograph. Nelson takes a pencil in hand, but still suffering from his injury, he slumps forward into the steering wheel of his golf cart, leaving a signature that is nothing more than a straight line. Before Hank has a chance to tell Willie that he is his hero, the singer’s cart picks up speed and races down a hill.

Convinced he cost his father the opportunity of a lifetime, Bobby rides his bicycle (with a guitar case strapped to the handlebars) to Willie Nelson’s mansion (now property of the United States Government). He finds Nelson playing Gameboy in a nearby trailer. Bobby phones his father with news that Nelson has invited him to a barbecue party. When Hank arrives, he finds the singer strumming Betsy.

Willie flips the guitar around and shows Hank that he autographed the instrument (the signature is identical to the straight line autograph from the golf course). Hank telephones his wife and invites her over to the barbecue. When she arrives, Peggy meets Dennis Hopper, who begins to flirt. Furious at Hank for showing the guitar so much attention, Peggy stomps towards her husband. But she melts when she hears Hank singing a song about how much he loves her.

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Waylon & Willie” Album certified Gold (2/4/78)

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Waylon-Jennings-Willie-Nelson-Waylon-And-Willie

On February 4, 1978, the album, “Waylon & Willie” album was certified gold for Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

This day in Willie Nelson history: “The Big Bounce” (1/30/04)

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

for tgif 1/30/04 photo from movieweb.combigbounce

On January 30, 2004, the movie “The Big Bounce”, opened.

bounce2

Thank you, Mark, from Willie Nelson’s Museum and General Store, (www.WillieNelsonMuseum.com), for finding this gem, a still from the movie, “The Big Bounce” released in 2004, also starring Owen Wilson, Gary Sinese, Morgan Freeman, Charlie Sheen, Bebe Neuwirth, Harry Dean Stanton, Gregory Sporleder, Steve Jones, Director: George Armitage

bigbounce2

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

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

On January 9, 1990, Willie Nelson’s ‘Stardust’ album is 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

http://blogcritics.org

by Glen Boyd

Over the short course of the history of popular music (at least as we define it today in the mostly American sense), there are but a handful of artists who stand out as truly iconic figures.

These are those rare artists whose appeal transcends boundaries both artistic and generational. Gershwin, Berlin, Sinatra, and Bennett certainly all fall into this category. A decent argument could be mounted that the likes of Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Johnny Cash, and even Bob Dylan as well.

There are unique points in time where a song, an album, or an artist changes the way that the game is played forever. And for my money, Willie Nelson is a guy who did exactly that with his landmark 1978 album Stardust.

In 1977, when Willie first informed the executive brass at Columbia’s country division in Nashville of his intent to record an album of pop standards from the Great American Songbook — produced by Booker T, of “Green Onions” fame with the MGs no less — I can almost imagine their collective gasp of horror.

Willie had already changed the rules once, practically inventing the seventies “outlaw country” genre with his collaborations with fellow malcontent Waylon Jennings, and on his own 1975 classic Red Headed Stranger. But this was something else entirely.

If Willie was already a legend at the time, Stardust would forever cement his status as an icon. The album had a run on the Billboard charts which at the time was simply unprecedented for a country artist. It spent ten and a half years dominating the country charts, and 117 weeks on the Top Pop Albums side. Long before the days of Garth, Kenny, and the rest, this was a feat that was nothing short of astounding. The album is five times platinum, and remains a strong catalog seller to this day.

don’t have to tell you how timeless the music that Willie recorded on this original 1978 classic is. Or at least I shouldn’t have to.

Stardust is worth its weight in gold for Willie’s timeless takes on both the title track and “Unchained Melody” alone. On the latter, Willie strips down the symphonic blast of the version Phil Spector produced for the Righteous Brothers’ classic than it is  to a simple, plaintive sort of plea, anchored by that unremarkable, yet unmistakable voice.

As unique as Willie’s lonely voice is, the sound he gets from that beat up old guitar is likewise unmistakably his own. Willie’s guitar hero, flamenco jazzman Django Reinhardt, would definitely be proud. And while Ray Charles version of “Georgia On My Mind” may be the definitive blueprint, Willie’s take on Stardust comes damned close.

Willie’s visits to the Great American Songbook have remained a recurring theme throughout his career, and on the Stardust (30th Anniversary Legacy Edition), the second disc explores those from the years 1976 to 1990. The highlights here include Willie’s take on Louis Armstrong’s classic “What A Wonderful World,” as well as a trio of standards recorded with the great Leon Russell for the 1979 album One For The Road.

The way Willie Nelson wears his inspirations ” which, outside of country and bluegrass, range from ragtime to rock to jazz to R&B on his sleeve, especially on this seminal album, is what makes this American original the true icon that he is. Seriously, when it comes to Americana, this guy’s face belongs on Mount Rushmore.

This day in Willie Nelson History: Making of ‘Mendocino County Line’ video (12.26.2001)

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

mendocino2

On December 26, 2001, Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack filmed the video to “Mendocino County Line” in downtown Austin, Texas.

 

Willie Nelson BoulevardDSC_0259

Janis Tillerson took the great picture of the sign. I took the blurry picture of the street.

mendocino

mendocino2

This day in Willie Nelson history: Grand Ole Opry debut as member (11/28/64)

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

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.

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Wanted: The Outlaws” 1st country album to go platinum (11/24/76)

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

On November 24, 1976, “Wanted: the Outlaws” became the first country album to receive the new platinum certification, signifying one million units shipped.

The album, featuring Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and Jessie Colter was certified gold on March 30, 1976.