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

Willie Nelson Interview, Billboard Country Music Summit, Nashville (June 5, 2012)

Friday, June 5th, 2020
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photo: Michael Seto

www.CMT.com
by Edward Morris

Willie Nelson arrived 37 minutes late for his scheduled question-and-answer session Tuesday (June 5) at the Billboard Country Music Summit in Nashville. But the crowd was patient and gave him a standing ovation when he finally walked onstage.

Nelson was in town to perform later that evening with the Nashville Symphony and Wednesday on the CMT Music Awards airing at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CMT and CMT.com.
Wearing a black T-shirt and jeans and with his hair pulled back into a ponytail, Nelson looked and sounded considerably younger than the 79 years the calendar has imposed upon him.

He sat in a chair opposite Billboard‘s Ray Waddell, who primed him with questions about his long and laurelled career as a singer, songwriter and political activist.
On the matter of performing with the Nashville Symphony, Nelson was modest.

“They’re really good,” he said of the orchestra members, “and I’m kind of faking it now and then.”

Nelson’s sons, Lukas and Micah, appear on his new album, Heroes, and sometimes perform during his concerts.

“Working with your kids — there’s nothing better than that,” he said. “All the kids really make you proud when you’re out there.”

Asked if he encouraged his children to get into music, Nelson responded, “I left a lot of instruments lying around and kind of waited to see what they would pick up. For a long time, they didn’t pick up anything. Then, after a while, I saw Luke pick up a guitar, and Micah jumped on some drums, and it kind of caught on from there.”
Waddell pointed out that Nelson has recorded songs from virtually every musical genre and asked what made him choose one song over another.

“It’s one of those instant things,” Nelson replied. “When you hear a song or a melody or something, it hits you. It’s really not anything you have control over. You hear a good song and you wonder where it’s been all these years.”

So what led him to cover Coldplay’s “The Scientist” on Heroes, Waddell wondered.

“Lukas brought that to the studio, and Micah brought ‘Come On Up to the House,’ the Tom Waits song [also on the album]. So the kids have kind of been supporting me.”

Flashing back to when he first knew he wanted to play music, Nelson said the first guitar he picked up was an old Stella with its strings sitting high off the neck.

“My fingers were almost bleeding, but I didn’t care. I knew that was what I wanted to do,” he recalled. “I was about 6 years old.”

Waddell asked if it had been difficult for him to leave his native Texas to try his hand at music in Nashville all those many years ago.

“I had been told all my life that this was the place to go,” he said. “This is where the music folks are, and if you had something to sell, the folks here might buy it. It sounds commercial, but that’s the way it was to me back in those days because I needed some help. I was doing pretty good in Texas, but I needed to branch out a little bit.”

It was in Nashville, Nelson acknowledged, that he established himself as a songwriter. Reciting his successes, he said, “Faron Young did ‘Hello Walls.’ Billy Walker did ‘Funny How Time Slips Away.’ Patsy Cline did ‘Crazy.’ Roy Orbison did ‘Pretty Paper.’ Ray Price did ‘Night Life.’”

While Nelson customarily wrote songs by himself, he said he did occasionally write with others.

Hank Cochran and I used to write some together,” he said. “I remember one night in particular we were writing at my house out in Ridgetop [a community located north of Nashville], and we wrote seven songs that night. The last song that we wrote was ‘What Can You Do to Me Now,’ and the next day my house burned.”

In those early days, Nelson continued, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Nashville’s Lower Broadway was a songwriters’ haven, located as it was directly behind Ryman Auditorium, then the home of the Grand Ole Opry.

“I met Charlie Dick there, who was Patsy Cline’s husband. I brought ‘Crazy’ with me on a 45 [rpm record]. I had it on Tootsie’s’ jukebox. He listened and said, ‘I bet Patsy would like that.’ It was about 12 at night, and we’d had a couple of beers. He said, ‘Let’s go play this for Patsy.’ I said, ‘No, let’s don’t. Let’s wait until tomorrow.’ But he said, ‘No. Come on.’  “So I wouldn’t get out of the car. He went in and told Patsy that he had a song for her. She came out and made me come into the house. I sang the song for her. She loved it and recorded it the next week.”

Nelson next reminisced about his stint as a bass player in Ray Price’s band.

“First of all, Donny Young — or Johnny Paycheck [as he’d later call himself] — was playing bass for Ray, and he left the band. I was writing songs for Pamper Music, Ray’s publishing company.

“Ray called me and asked me if I could play bass, and I said, ‘Well, can’t everybody?’ So on my way up there on the bus [to meet Price], [steel guitarist] Jimmy Day taught me a few things on the bass. I played guitar and knew the top four strings were very similar.   “So I had something to go on, and he knew the Ray Price show. By the time I got there, I thought I knew it. Of course, I didn’t. I asked Ray years later if he knew I couldn’t play bass, and he said, ‘Uh huh.’”

Waddell next wanted to know what caused Nelson to leave Nashville after he had become a recording artist and return to Texas.

“My demo sessions were better than my records,” he said, “because I had the greatest musicians in the world [playing on the demos]. So I really loved my demos, but a lot of the time when [the labels] got through adding everything to it, I felt like it kind of watered it down a little bit. That was one of the problems I had with that kind of recording.”

Also, he noted, he had a big fan base in Texas and played there a lot. Often, it made it difficult for him to get back to Nashville in time to play on the Grand Ole Opry, where he performed regularly.

In Texas, he noticed the audiences looked a little different from those in Tennessee.

“I played a lot of places where there were longhaired cowboys and shorthaired cowboys, and the air was kind of smelling different,” he said. “And I noticed a lot of the people were getting along pretty good out there. So I said we might ought to try something different.
“This was just after Woodstock. So I thought we might try something in Austin or Dripping Springs. So me and Leon Russell and a few more of us gathered up and had a little show down there [in 1973]. . . . We had about 50,000 people.” Thus was born the first of a series of annual Willie Nelson Picnics.

On the recording side, Nelson had turned to making concept albums — including Shotgun Willie, Phases & Stages, Yesterday’s Wine and Red Headed Stranger — instead of the usual collections of unrelated songs.

“I don’t really know what made me think it would work,” Nelson reflected. But obviously it did.
Asked about the “outlaw” tag tacked to him after the release of Wanted! The Outlaws, the 1976 package of songs that also featured Waylon Jennings and Tompall Glaser, Nelson said, “I loved it. I thought that was the best sales idea we came up with. . . . I thought it was ingenious.”

He noted that the term “outlaws” was coined by Hazel Smith, who now writes CMT.com’s Hot Dish column.
Nelson also spoke fondly of touring with Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson as the Highwaymen.

“Every night I got to hear my heroes sing,” he said. He added that there were 278 pieces of luggage they had to lug around on the Highwaymen tour.
Nelson said he didn’t realize in 1985, when he helped launch the first Farm Aid to call attention to America’s embattled family farmers, that it would develop into an annual event.

“I really thought that if we did one Farm Aid and all the smart guys in Washington saw what was going on, they would do something about it. But then I found out that they were part of the problem — that the big corporations had taken over the farms, and they were trying to squeeze out the family farmers. And they’re doing a damn good job of it.

“What’s really going to have to happen is we’re going to have to get our farmers back growing food and fuel and keep us from going around the world and starting wars over oil when we can have our own resources right here.”

This remark drew cheers from the crowd.

“One of our biggest problems,” he continued, “is that guns and drugs are going back and forth across our southern border. . . . It would save a lot of money and a lot of lives by decriminalizing some of the less harmful drugs.”

He later referred to marijuana, the drug with which he’s become associated and celebrated, as “the best stress medicine there is.”
Waddell asked Nelson why he is so open to meeting with and helping younger artists. That question took Nelson back to the days when he was a fan looking toward his own idols.

“I remember meeting [Western movies actor] Johnny Mack Brown when he came to Hillsboro [Texas]. I shook his hand and got an autograph. I realize how happy that made me. So if I can make somebody else that happy, that would be a good deal.”

Returning to his new record, Heroes, Nelson had nothing but praise for Snoop Dogg, who sings with him on the raucous “Roll Me Up (And Smoke Me When I Die).”

“He didn’t rap it. He really crooned it,” Nelson marveled.

He confirmed the rumor that in the hard times of his early career, he sold the rights to several songs that are now priceless, among them “Family Bible” (which went for $100) and “Night Life.” He said at the time it made sense and helped him pay his bills.

“I really don’t feel horrible about it, but I wish I hadn’t.”

Summarizing the way he looks at life now, Nelson concluded, “I’m just glad for the moment. That’s about all I can think about right now.”

Willie Nelson raises funds for Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (June 5, 2013)

Friday, June 5th, 2020
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photo:  Associated Press

http://online.wsj.com
by: Mike Vilensky

The Four Seasons restaurant, a business crowd and celebrity mainstay in Midtown, has seen any number of boldfaced diners, but a high-profile Four Seasons newcomer showed up on Wednesday: Willie Nelson.

“It’s his first time here, and I hope to welcome him!” said Alex von Bidder, co-owner of the restaurant. “I’m excited—I’m a lifelong fan. I’m sorry I didn’t wear my cowboy hat tonight.”

Mr. Nelson performed at the restaurant that evening for the first in a series of “Cabaret for a Cause” shows benefiting the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a nonprofit helping wounded military personnel and their families. With his band, Willie Nelson & Family, the singer played a one-hour set to a crowded room of over 150 people, raising $60,000 for the organization.

“It’s one thing to be a legend. It’s another to be an icon,” said TV newsman Dan Rather, who introduced Mr. Nelson. He “has made so many albums I frankly lost track.”

The Four Seasons crowd is typically a tactful, genteel bunch. But in this setting, they suddenly revealed their love of live-music and a singer with hits such as “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die.” There was real-estate magnate William Rudin, nodding along to classic country tunes like “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”

“I’ve got my bluejeans on,” said Mr. Rudin, who runs Rudin Management Co. “I’m ready to rock out.”

Mr. Rudin gave us a few Four Seasons menu recommendations. “The crab-cakes are excellent,” he said, before adding, “everything’s good!”

The money raised at the event will go toward a campaign to raise $100 million for the construction of new National Intrepid Center of Excellence Satellite Centers, where military personnel can be treated for brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.

Former Navy SEAL Pete Scobell attended the event and touted his time at one of the centers. His thoughts on the evening’s performer? “‘On the Road Again’ pretty much sums up my whole military career,” he said.

Willie Nelson & Family in Des Moines (June 2, 2020)

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park
2201 George Flagg Pkwy
Des Moines, IA 50321 \

Red Headed Stranger (June 1, 1975)

Monday, June 1st, 2020

Willie Nelson and Family and Friends,(Back Yard) (May 28, 2013)

Thursday, May 28th, 2020
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Thanks to Jim Eckenrode, for his photo from the BackYard on April 28, 2013, at the finale of the Willie Nelson & Family Show.

Willie Nelson & Family and Old Crow Medicine Show at Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Music Festival (May 27, 28, 2016)

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020
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Willie Nelson & Family and Old Crow Medicine Show headline Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Music Festival in Evans, GA (May 27, 28)

Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Music Festival is excited to announce the full lineup of artists that will play at the 7th Annual Event during Memorial Day Weekend, Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28 at Evans Towne Center Park.

The 2016 lineup includes:  Willie Nelson And Family – Old Crow Medicine Show – Steep Canyon Rangers Blitzen Trapper – Mountain Faith – Sarah Jaroz – Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Susto – Ben Miller
Have Gun Will Travel – Guthrie Brown & The Family Tree – Little Roy & Lizzie Show – Great Peacock – Josh Roberts & The Hinges – Motel Radio – Packway Handle Band – Laney Jones & The Spirits BooHoo Ramblers – Georgia-Lina Boys – The Mason Jars – Muddy Johnson – Delta Cane

Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Music Festival came to life in 2010 to honor Joe Pond, who gave so much to his community. Feel-good music,
southern barbecue & most of all a family atmosphere were a few of the things Joe Pond enjoyed and loved sharing with his family. All
proceeds benefit the Joseph R. Pond Memorial Foundation. In 2015, the foundation donated $46,000 to local charities in the CSRA.

Join us Memorial Day Weekend, May 27 & 28 at Evans Towne Center Park in Evans, GA for the 7th Annual Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que &
Music Festival! We’ll have some of the best roots, rock and bluegrass music you can find, finger-lickin’ good barbecue, a large selection
of craft beer, a petting zoo, pig races, and so much more

Willie Nelson at Madison Square Gardens (May 24 -29, 1984) (All shows sold out)

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

Willie Nelson performed a series of six concerts at Radio City Music Hall in New York on May 24 – May 29, 1984. All of the shows sold out, which was the first time for a country western act.

Willie Nelson Busted at 61 (Star Magazine) (May 24, 1994)

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

Star Magazine
by Alex Burton
May 24, 1994

Willie Nelson was arrested in Hewitt, Texas, on May 10, after police found him asleep in the back of his Mercedes and discovered a bag of marijuana in his car.

Nelson, 61, claims he was returning home after a poker game when he pulled off the road due to bad weather.

“I played all night and was driving back to Austin,” says Nelson.  It was foggy, so I pulled to the side of the road to sleep, and the policemen found me.”

A Hewitt police report says officers “saw a man lying in the back seat who appeared to be asleep.  While looking in the vehicle, officers observed a hand-rolled cigarrette in the ashtray.”

“The officers tapped on the window.  The subject sat up, opened the door and identified himself as Willie Nelson.”

The report adds, “The officers believed the cigarette in the ashtray to be marijuana, and Mr. Nelson was placed under arrest for possession of marijuana under 2 ounces.”

“Mr. Nelson advised the officers there was additional marijuana in the vehicle.  A bag was found which contained a substance believed to be marijuana.”

Nelson was taken to the McLennan County Jail in Waco and held for two hours before posting bail.

“Mr. Nelson was turned over to the booking officers there.  Standard procedure is to fingerprint and photograph the individual and collect the person’s property,” says Hewitt Police Lt. Wilbert Wachtendorf.

“After his release, he returned to the station here in Hewitt, and retrieved his car, credit cards and cash.

“I was in the station when Mr. Nelson returned.  He actually shook the hands of the two arresting officers.  He was in good spirits, and seemed to be a nice individual.”

The charge against Nelsion is a Class B misdemeanor and the case will be referred to the local district attorney.

Willie Nelson and LeeAnn Womack win Academy of Country Music Award (2002)

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

On May 22, 2002, Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack won Vocal Event of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards Show for their duet “Mendocino County Line” 

People Magazine, “Inside Country Music” (May 21, 1984)

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

People Magazine
Inside Country Music
May 21, 1984
by Chet Flippo

When country’s greatest star, the late Hank Williams, went into the studio to record an album, he was treated like a serf.  Fred Rose, the autocratic producer and co-writer, had already decreed what songs would be cut and which musicians would perform on those cuts.  A true feudal system, Hank was the first  country superstar and never made much more than $100,000 a year.  He didn’t know that he could complain — though had he lived to see Kenny Rogers take in more than $20 million last year, he might have figured it out. 

The drastic change – that is to say, the commercial change — began early in 1976 with Wanted:  the Outlaws.  That was the first Nashville album to go platinum.  And it was strictly a patch job designed to pick up a few extra bucks with a handful of songs already in the can.  Jerry Bradley, then running RCA in Nashville, had a keen eye for packaging a concept.  He saw that Willie Nelson had abandoned Nashville for  Texas, and that Willie’s buddy, Waylon Jennings, was wearing not only leather and long hair but a fierce spirit of musical independence that was drawing a new, young multiclass audience. 

For the Outlaws album, Bradley put together some cuts by Willie, Waylon, Jessi Colter (Waylon’s wife) and Tompall Glaser, fronting the package with an album cover that looked like a Wild West wanted poster.  The songs were not among any of the artist’s finest work, but the album’s image was perfect.  After years of country stars singing syrup and looking like mannequins, here were some mavericks daring to get down and dirty, if need be. 

The surprise was that the music had not changed — Willie had always sung eclectic country blues and Waylon had played a hard, rock-tinged sound ever since his stint in Buddy Holly’s band — but that the audience had.  It was a weird mix of hippies and rednecks, stumbling over this “progressive country” after rejecting the soft country and soft rock that were the alternatives.  The outlaw phenomenon took off, and amazing thins happened. Urban cowboys sprang up all over the pace.  This was not such a country-to-pop crossover hit as a Certified New Thing.  Utopia reigned as rednecks grew their hair long and hippies cut there’s short, and everybody danced arm-in-arm with honky-tonks everywhere.

After years of slumber, Nashville was cashville.  Out went the violins, back were the fiddles, albeit mixed with ringing electric guitars and a solid rock beat.  Into town came the money merchants, sniffing a trend.  In 1977 former pop singer, jazz singer and folk singer Kenny Rogers tested country’s water with Lucille — and he found something he never had before:  a big career.  Country became a genuine big business.

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“Then there’s Willie Nelson, who is in his own time zone and can do whatever we wants.” — Chet Flippo

Willie Nelson named 2009 Texas State Musician (May 20, 2009)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
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The Texas Commission on the Arts has named Willie Nelson the 2009 Texas State Musician.

Congratulations, Willie!

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, The Texas Commission on the Arts has announced the 2009 and 2010 appointments for the positions of State Poet Laureate, State Musician, State Two-Dimensional Artist, and State Three-Dimensional Artist; and

WHEREAS, Honorees are chosen for the exceptional quality of their work and for their outstanding commitment to the arts in Texas; nominees must either be native Texans or have resided in the state for at least five years; in addition, they must have received critical recognition from state, regional, and national publications, and they must have attained the highest levels of excellence in their respective disciplines; and

WHEREAS, The 2009 Texas State Poet Laureate is Paul Ruffin, a Distinguished Professor of English at Sam Houston State University; the author of six acclaimed books of poetry as well as several volumes of fiction and nonfiction, Mr. Ruffin has published poems in hundreds of journals and anthologies; he is also the founder and editor of The Texas Review and the director of Texas Review Press; and

WHEREAS, Willie Nelson is the 2009 Texas State Musician; this legendary Texas performer was playing the guitar at the age of 6 and performing at 10; after establishing himself in Nashville as a hit songwriter, he returned to Texas and soon became world-famous as an interpreter of his own songs and as an icon of the outlaw country music movement; he has further distinguished himself as a film and television actor and entrepreneur, as well as an ever-popular touring concert artist who has been involved in numerous charity events such as FarmAid; and

WHEREAS, The 2009 Texas State Two-Dimensional Artist is Rene Alvarado; born in Mexico, he came to the United States with his family as a boy, and his work powerfully evokes the values and heritage of his native country, finding universal resonance in the rich particularity of Mexican culture; his work has been featured in galleries and exhibitions throughout Texas and the Southwest; and

WHEREAS, Eliseo Garcia has been selected as the 2009 Texas State Three-Dimensional Artist; his inspiring bas-relief sculptures pay homage to the importance of family, love, and spirituality while reflecting the ancient cultural traditions of the Aztec and Mayan civilizations; often carved out of Texas limestone, his works are on permanent display in arts centers, hospitals, libraries, and other public buildings across the state; and

WHEREAS, Fort Worth native and Denton resident Karla K. Morton has been named as the 2010 Texas State Poet Laureate; a songwriter and children’s book author as well as a celebrated poet, Ms. Morton performs her poetry across the state and has recorded her poems with musical accompaniment; she is a founder of the Denton Poet’s Assembly and a member of the board of directors of the Greater Denton Arts Council; and

WHEREAS, Sara Hickman of Austin will be the 2010 Texas State Musician; this talented singer-songwriter has recorded many critically acclaimed albums; the daughter of a painter and a weaver, the multitalented Ms. Hickman is also a painter; she supports many social causes through her work and regularly performs and records music for children; and

WHEREAS, Austin painter Marc Burckhardt has been named as the 2010 Texas State Two-Dimensional Artist; born in Germany and raised in Texas, Mr. Burckhardt combines European imagery with thematic material from contemporary American life; his mischievous wit is enhanced by his adoption of the glazing and varnishing techniques of the old masters, and his work has been featured in galleries and shows around the nation and across the world; and

WHEREAS, The 2010 Texas State Three-Dimensional Artist will be John Bennett, who began sculpting figures in 1976 and cast his first bronze in 1985; acclaimed for his sculptures of women, he has created works depicting women from all walks of life, from Old West legend Annie Oakley to 98-year-old Alice Reeves, a former schoolteacher and granddaughter of a slave; one of his pieces was selected by the Women’s Museum for display at the White House in 1999; and

WHEREAS, The men and women who have been selected to hold these prestigious posts for the next two years have all greatly contributed to the vibrant cultural life of the Lone Star State, and Texas is indeed fortunate to be home to these talented artists; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 81st Legislature of the State of Texas hereby honor the 2009 and 2010 appointees to the positions of State Poet Laureate, State Musician, State Two-Dimensional Artist, and State Three-Dimensional Artist and extend to each of them sincere best wishes for continued creativity and achievement

Willie Nelson’s First New York Appearance: Max’s Kansas City (May 16 – 21, 1973)

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

Willie Nelson & Family at Stubbs (May 16, 18, 2002)

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

Willie Nelson and Family at the Surf Ballroom (May 15, 2013)

Friday, May 15th, 2020
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Thanks so much to Barb, for sharing her photos from the Willie Nelson & Family Concert at the historic Surf Ballroom.

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Wow, it’s hard to get the whole band in one shot when you’re up close like that. That’s nice.

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Willie nelson at the Ryman Auditorium (May 15, 2003)

Friday, May 15th, 2020