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

Willie Nelson and Lukas Nelson @ Charley’s (12/18/2010)

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

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Thanks so much to my friend and Willie Nelson fan Shelly, who sends me stories from seeing Willie Nelson at Charley’s in Pa’ai, on Maui.

Howzit Linda!

Last year, after coming back to Honolulu from celebrating New Year’s Eve 2010 with a Willie Nelson and family concert on Maui, I regaled my friend Charles Bateman with stories, and made him promise to go with me the next time there was an indication Willie would perform on Maui again.

So there were indications Willie might perform with his son, Lukas at one of the two concerts Lukas and Promise of the Real were to give at Charley’s on December 17th and 18th. We took our chances and decided to try for the Saturday nite concert rather than the Friday night one. Once we finally landed in Maui after an excruciating 6 hour delay, we ended up buying the last ticket (single) sold at the bar for the concert.

As we went off to eat dinner before the concert, Charles tried to introduce doubt about who was going to use the ticket to get in. I immediately pulled the car over and told Charles that this was not a matter that I would be able to joke about. Silently, I pondered how difficult it would be to get a man as big as Charles out of the vehicle and leave him in the sugar cane field so that this question would be settled for certain.

He seemed to get the message and didn’t joke about it again, and we went off to dinner still with some tension between us. At 8pm we, or I should say I, was let into Charleys for the concert. Later, Chuck would have great luck buying a ticket from a scalper for a few extra dollars.

Once Chuck was in, I gave him a tour of the place, pointing out all the platinum records, the giant-sized Trigger, and other Willie Nelson memorabilia in the bar. We sidled up to a good location near the stage and readied ourselves for the predictable onslaught of the usually stoned, peace-lovin, and aloha-livin’ Maui folks fighting their way up to be close to the stage for the possibility of seeing Lukas Nelson and a legend.

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Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real took the stage some time around 10:45 and played great songs from their new album. Like his father, Lukas has a humble and gracious stage presence that belies his tremendous talents as a musician.

Meanwhile, Willie’s other son, Micah began embellishing a surfboard with his unique artistic skills, transforming a typical surfboard into a trippy, mind-bending board.

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Somewhere around midnight, a stage hand made his way to the creaky old screen door at the back of the stage, slowly opened it, and Willie Nelson appeared and an electric guitar was given to him. The crowd went ecstatic, screaming with enthusiasm. Willie flashed us a pleased grin in reply, winked at a few friends, and the band broke into “Whiskey River.”

Lukas and his fellow band members, just in their twenties, did a remarkable job playing Willie’s country classics that are decades older than them; “On the Road Again,” “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.” Father and son did some impressive dueling guitar work, facing each other, and it appeared Willie purposely flubbed a portion of the duel to make Lukas look like the victorious guitar virtuoso. They both laughed at this display of Willie’s humanity on guitar.

Soon the music turned back to Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real tunes, and Willie sang and played along, lending a real resonance to the songs. Lukas then spoke of the importance and love of family and his parents in his heart-rending song, “Mothers and Fathers”. Annie Nelson, standing on the side of the stage was visibly pleased as was Willie.

Both parents seemed equally pleased and proud when Lukas dazzled the crowd, and particularly a group of 4 young women smitten with him, when he showed off his ability to make music with his instrument and his mouth. The girls seemed close to collapsing by the end of this display.

Micah finished with his surfboard creation and joined the band, adding a third drummer to the final set of music. The boys threw in a couple of Christmas standards for the season, and then wrapped up the evening with a combination of Willie and Lukas songs somewhere around 1am. The crowd dispersed glowing, and mellowed back to their normal Maui selves. All those who pushed and shoved, spilled drinks on each other, hugged and kissed and said aloha.

Willie Nelson & Billy Joe Shaver on the Late Show with David Letterman (December 17, 2014)

Monday, December 17th, 2018

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Willie Nelson Holiday tour 1981 (December 11, 1981)

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

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

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

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.

Willie Nelson, the Columbia Record interview (12/10/1982)

Monday, December 10th, 2018

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The Columbia Record
Columbia, SC
December 10, 1982
by Tom Connelly

Willie Nelson repeatedly waved aside my apologies.  “Don’t go.  We have plenty of itme.  I am not giving any other interviews.”

Interviews with Willie Nelson are hard to obtain, because of his obvious shyness, the pressing schedule and other matters. Bob Horning of Carolina Coliseum had intervened with bearded, burly Alex Cooley, promoter of the concert.  Nelson was told the facts — I was researching a book on the Southern mind and wanted his ideas.

He agreed even though the timing seemed very tight.  A limo brought him to the Coliseum only 40 minutes before is appearance efore a 12,000 plus sell-out crowd.

The automobile had scarcely halted before big Alex Cooley escorted me to a bus.  “He is waiting or you inside,” he said.  It is one thing to talk with a Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette or even an old waylon. Willie Nelson was something else entirely.

Willie Nelson sat quietly at the front of the bus, talking with some friends.  A pair of steely eyes searched me out as he rose, shook hands and suggested we move to the back of the bus.

The back of the bus was something like a railroad observation car where padded sofas surrounded a glass-topped coffee table.

“You go on in 30 minutes,” I said.  “I only want to take up a little time.”

“I have nothing else to do,” he said.  “So we have a half-hour.”

So we talked for almost a half-hour and ended scarcely 5 minutes before he went onstage.  In the process I learned more about Willie Nelson than I had intended.  First, it was obvious that Nelson himself did not understand why he had become such a superstar.  here was a guy who arrived in Nashville over 20 years ago, scrounged while living in Dunn’s Trailer Park on Gallatin Road, ate at Linebaugh’s Cafe, peddled his songs and now is a national idol.  Later, when he came onstage and broke into “Whiskey River,” the audience stood and screamed.

Arrogance can accompany great success but arrogant Willie Nelson is not.  He is far more humble, relaxed and direct than many other lesser artists I have interviewed.  Nelson obviously does not grasp why a Columbia audience turns out in sell-out fashion for a guy with a bandanna, trousers and jogging shoes.

Or maybe he does know.  Ninety percent of our conversation was about Southern religion, one of Willie Nelson’s favorite subjects.  “Don’t leave,” he said.  “I don’t get many chances to talk about this.”  We found some common friends like songwriter Bob McDill and Singer Tom T. Hall.  “I’d sure like for all of us to sit up some night and talk about religion,” Nelson mused.

“Back in the ’50’s, when I was playing some clubs in Fort Worth, I was teaching Sunday school and playing clubs at night.  The church leaders told me I could not do both.  So I quit Sunday School.”

Obviously he never really left.  No Southern boy ever does.  On the surface he has moved far from the wooden church upbringing in a dusty Texashamlet.  Now he is a firm believer in reincarnation and claims membership in a faith which ascribes to this.

“So what is the South to you, in one sentence,” I asked.

Nelson looked off in the distance for a moment.  “It is the music and the religion of course.  And it is also the land.  The land in Texas where I grew up had such scarcity and vastness .  It taught me not to be afraid, to know you can do anything you want to do.”

Not to be afraid to do anything you want to do.  Not even to be afraid to be a superstar after yars of hard times.  He walked onstage amid the vast roar…

This day in Willie Nelson History: Jimmy Carter in Plains on CMT (12/8/04)

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

On December 8, 2004, “CMT Homecoming: Jimmy Carter In Plains” premieres, featuring a Willie Nelson concert, taped in the former president’s hometown.

On September 9, 2004 Willie Nelson performed a concert in Plains, Georgia, for an upcoming TV special, “CMT Homecoming: Jimmy Carter In Plains”

The concert was filmed in September, for a special airing in December 2004, when CMT featured a special homecoming event, with the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, for an intimate look at the small town that he still calls home and where he spends the holidays with wife Rosalynn, his children and grandchildren – Plains, Ga.

In this one-hour documentary, CMT Homecoming: President Carter In Plains, President Carter welcomes his longtime friend, country legend Willie Nelson, to Plains for the reunion. Nelson joins President Carter for a tour of his childhood home, his boyhood haunts, and the town that holds a special place in President Carter’s heart. The two friends swap stories of what it was like growing up in small towns and reminisce about their friendship that has lasted decade.

In honor of Plains, Nelson performs for everyone in the town, and the fans get a surprise when President and Mrs. Carter join Nelson on stage.

Thanks to Alice from Georgia for sending pictures.

This day in Willie Nelson history: “On the Road Again” added to Grammy Hall of Fame (12/7/2010)

Friday, December 7th, 2018

www.CMT.com

On December 7, 2010 single, the Grammy Hall of Fame announced that “On the Road Again,” is one of 30 songs joining the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Other selections include “Lovesick Blues” (1949) by Hank Williams with his Drifting Cowboys and “Steel Guitar Rag” (1936) by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys featuring Leon McAuliffe. Honored recordings must be at least 25 years old and be recognized for their “lasting qualitative or historical significance,” according to press materials. Recordings are reviewed annually by a committee of recording industry professionals and final approval is made by the Recording Academy Trustees. The list now totals 881 recordings.

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Highwayman” recorded in Nashville (December 6, 1984)

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

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On December 6, 1984, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson record “Highwayman” at Nashville’s Moman Studios. Among the musicians on the session is guitarist Marty Stuart.

This day in Willie Nelson history: Kennedy Center Honors (Dec. 5, 1998)

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

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photo: Khue Bui

Life Magazine
December 5, 1998

Award winner Willie Nelson and his wife arrive at the Department of State for the Kennedy Center Honors Gala dinner Saturday, Dec. 5, 1998, in Washington. The center honored comedian Bill Cosby, musician Willie Nelson, composer and conductor Andre Previn, songwriting team of Fred Ebb and John Kander, former actress and ambassador to Czechkoslovakia Shirley Temple Black.

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

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

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 in Kansas City, MO (11/26/08)

Monday, November 26th, 2018

 

Photo:  Scott Spychalski,

Willie Nelson and Family, and Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters concert at the Midland, in Kansas City, MO, on November 26, 2008.

 

Willie Nelson’s Set List:

Whiskey River
Still Is Still Moving To Me
Beer for My Horses
Funny How Time Slips Away
Crazy
Night Life
Piano instrumental
Me and Paul
If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time
Help Me Make It through the Night

Me and Bobby McGee
Good Hearted Woman
Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain
Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
Angel Flying Too Close To the Ground
On the Road Again
You Were Always On My Mind
Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I’ll Fly Away
Down Yonder
Georgia on a Fast Train
Georgia on My Mind
The City of New Orleans
To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before
Milk Cow Blues
Bloody Mary Morning
Jambalaya (On the Bayou)/Hey, Good Lookin’/Move It On Over
Seven Spanish Angels
Superman
You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore
I Saw the Light
Take Back America

The business of Being Willie Nelson (Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1986)

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

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photo:  Ron McKeown.

www.Chicago Tribune.com
November 25, 1986
By Wes Smith

After completing 115 holes of video golf in little more than 9 hours, executive W.H. Nelson put aside his toys and directed the driver of his mobile office to roll.

As chief executive officer of Red-headed Stranger Ltd., president of Farm Aid Inc., owner of the Pedernales Country Club, board member for the United Theological Seminary and honorary “Man of the Year“ for the United Jewish Appeal, it was time for Nelson to entertain a client or two, or three- or four-thousand

“My portfolio?” asked the boss with a toss of his auburn pony-tail. “I never wear one.”

There is no business like the business of being Willie Nelson. By no stretch of the headband is Nelson a baron of Wall Street. But with an annual income estimated conservatively at $15 million, Nelson himself is a big business deal.

Since “Williemania” struck in full force in the late 1970s, Nelson, 53, has become a one-man entertainment industry. He is a successful singer-songwriter-actor-author-record and movie-producer and Farm Aid fund-raiser. Look for his autobiography (“I wanted to do it before someone else did it”) and his own brand of soup to be introduced in coming months.

Although royalties from his songs pay Nelson enough for a comfortable life, record sales are now his main producer of revenue. His “Stardust”
album is still on the charts after seven years and climbing again as result of compact disc sales. Two of Nelson`s albums have sold more than 3 million copies, three albums sold more than a million and 10 albums sold more than 500,000. He now gets $1 million for recording an album with CBS records plus 35 percent of sales.

To promote the album sales, and because he easily gets stir crazy, Nelson tours about nine months of the year, bringing in another $12 million annually. From that he nets about $6 million before his personal expenses. Last August, he signed a $7 million, three-year contract that allowed Blue Bell Inc., the maker of Wrangler jeans, to promote 100 of Nelson`s concerts annually and hand out front-seat tickets to Wrangler denim dealers at the shows, said Paul English, Nelson`s business manager, longtime friend and drummer.

Willie & Family, as the band is known, travel in four or five customized buses with two truckloads of equipment trailing behind. The Willie Nelson road show is a family operation with a country store flavor. Nelson shares his bus, the mahogany-paneled “Honeysuckle Rose,“ with his older sister Connie, who plays keyboards. English`s son, Darnell, is assistant road manager on the tour, and Billy English, Paul`s brother, is a percussionist. Most members of the band and road crew–which total about 30 including the T-shirt hawkers –have been with Nelson at least 10 years.

While Nelson uses his computer keyboard to play video golf for hours on end while touring, his road manager, lanky, long-haired David Anderson, takes care of the payroll, day-to-day logistics and communications for the tour on his own personal computer.

Anderson is a native of Park Ridge, Ill. (“We moved when I was 28-days-old.“) The 30-year-old road manager must fold his 6-foot-4 frame into a cramped workspace not much larger than a doghouse. His mobile office, tucked in a space under a bunk bed, is packed with an IBM XT personal computer and printer, a check writer, a 3M Fax machine, a Cannon copier, a modular phone system and an Uzi submachine gun “for security reasons.”

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

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

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.

Willie Nelson & Family in Oklahoma City (November 22, 2017)

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

Willie Nelson in Concert (November 21, 2013)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

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