Archive for the ‘Special Days’ Category

Willie Nelson, “Valentine”

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Happy Birthday, Susie Nelson

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016


Susie Nelson, Willie Nelson, Billy Nelson ,Connie Nelson, and Paula on her dad’s lap.

Best wishes to Susie Nelson, for a great birthday, and a great new year.


Happy Birthday, Dolly Parton

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016


Lana Nelson posted this sweet picture of her dad and Dolly Parton with special birthday wishes on

Grady Martin (January 17, 1929 – December 3, 2001)

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Session guitarist Grady Martin was born on January 17, 1929, was born in Chapel Hill, Tennessee. Before he joined Willie Nelson & Family, Grady had played with Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, Elvis Presley and Ray Price. He also wrote the song sung by Ronnie Milsap, “Snap Your Fingers.”


*Article originally printed in the August, 1984 edition of Country Song Roundup magazine.

Young country fans know Grady Martin as the lead guitarist in Willie Nelson’s band, but he is much, much more. His contributions to the development of the Nashville Sound as a studio musician in the 1950’s and 1960’s have been incalculable.

Put bluntly, there would be no Nashville music industry as we know it, were it not for Grady Martin. Country entrepreneur Tillman Franks thinks Grady belongs in the Country Music Hall of Fame. “There are five great musical geniuses that made Nashville Music City U.S.A.,” he says. “They are: recording studio innovator Owen Bradley, music publisher Fred Rose, Grand Ole Opry superstar Roy Acuff, and musicians Chet Atkins and Grady Martin. Of these five, Grady MArtin is the only one not in the Country Music Hall of Fame. As a charter member of the Country Music Association, I hereby nominate Grady Martin for the Hall of Fame in 1984.”

Franks said that in December 1983, at a tribute dinner held in Martin’s honor by the Nashville Music Association On that occasion, Grady was lauded by his peers and given the first Master Tribute Award, designed to honor the unsung heroes of music: the backup instrumentalists. On hand were Brenda Lee, Floyd Cramer, Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, The Jordonaires, and a ballroom of other celebrities. Willie Nelson hosted the tribute to his friend and bandmember.

Studio musicians got their due at long last that night. Finally it was stated publicly that Grady Martin was the session leader for the hundreds of hit productions that put Nashville on the map. He was a chief architect in the building of Music City.

Grady Martin was born 55 years ago, Jan. 17, 1929, 50 miles south of Nashville on a farm between Lewisburg and Chapel Hill, Tennessee. He grew into a strapping six-footer, but he always preferred making music to doing his farm chores. “My dad played the jug,” he chuckles, remembering his musical youth. “And my mother played the piano. My brother had bought a guitar for eight dollars and he wouldn’t let me fool with it much. I had to slip away to get it.” Maybe that’s why he took up the fiddle at age 13. “There was an old fella down the road named John Davis who played his fiddle at night on his porch. He went down to all the local dances and played.”

He inspired Grady so much that the youngster was soon one of the most accomplished fiddlers in the area. When Nashville radio star Big Jeff Bess came south for a show, Martin was played for him backstage. Impressed, Bess offered the 15 year-old a job.

“We had an early-morning radio show, and just played schoolhouses and anywhere we could. Four or five dollars a night was a good night’s pay. This was during World War II.” Bess was the husband of the legendary Hattie Louise “Tootsie” Bess, later immortalized as the owner of Nashville’s Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge Bar, across the alley from the Ryman Auditorium downtown, mother church of the Grand Ole Opry.

“I went up to the Opry one Saturday night and met manager Jim Denny. I was just askin’ for a job with somebody on the show. And he turned me on to The Bailes Brothers. So I traveled and appeared with them for awhile.” At the time the group was riding the crest of a wave of hits that included Dust on the Bible, I Wanna Be Loved (But Only By You), and As Long As I Live.

Martin toured with such Opry headliners as Jamup & Honey and Uncle Dave Macon. When he began appearing with trick fiddler Curly Fox and “The Sophie Tucker of Cowgirl Singers,” Texas Ruby, he switched to guitar. Thus, on that instrument he made his recording debut when Fox took him into a studio in Chicago.

He joined the band of Red Foley then about to become the biggest star of his generation of country vocalists. [A] 1949 Nashville recording session produced Foley’s huge number-one hit Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy. It was the first of many million-sellers that were to feature Grady’s guitar. “We recorded that at the Old Castle Studio that was in the Tulane Hotel on Church Street in Nashville.”

Artists like Carl Smith, George Morgan, and Little Jimmy Dickens began using him on their sessions. Hall of Fame member credits Martin and guitarist Jabbo Arrington for developing his hit sounds= with their twin-guitar playing.

Martin even played (fiddle) on a Hank Williams session. He also accompanied Williams to “The Kate Smith Show” in New York in 1952, country music’s debut on prime-time, nationwide network TV.

As Red Foley’s airplane pilot and lead guitarist, Grady Martin accompanied Foley on his commutes to Springfield, Missouri. There he became the band leader on the Foley-hosted “Ozark Jubilee,” the first network TV country variety series.

He maintained his ties to the infant recording center in Nashville, however. Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Webb Pierce, and dozens of other Nashville pioneers featured him on their hit records.

“I guess the person I played the most hit licks for was Marty Robbins,” says Martin wistfully of his old friend. That’s Grady’s Spanish-style picking embellishing El Paso, and on Don’t Worry he developed the electric fuzz-tone sound that was to influence an entire generation of psychedelic electric-guitar stylists.

He played vibes on Floyd Cramer’s timeless Last Date. He played dobro/guitar on Wilma Burgess’ lovely Tear Time. He banged tambourine and played the banjo lick on Wings Of A Dove by Ferlin Husky.

“On sessions that produced, like Johnny Horton’s Battle of New Orleans or Jimmy Dean’s Big John, I just went ahead and started it up without the producer. He trusted me and I loved it. When he’d come in later, we’d have a hit arrangement worked out.”

Grady also arranged (and wrote) Joe Henderson’s Snap Your Fingers (1962), perhaps Nashville’s first black top pop hit. The following year, he arranged and published Our Winter Love, one of Music City’s biggest ever pop instrumentals.

He played on all the hits of Patsy Cline and on all the worldwide million-sellers of Brenda Lee. He’s on Elvis Presley’s movie soundtracks. He’s on Gone (Ferlin Husky), Saginaw Michigan (Lefty Frizzell), Waterloo (Stonewall Jackson), Uncle Pen (Porter Wagoner, Grady’s last major session as a fiddler), Devil in Disguise (Elvis), Oh Pretty Woman (Orbison), I’m Sorry (Brenda) and For the Good Times (Ray Price).

Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Dottie West , Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Larry Gatlin, and Kris Kristofferson records all feature Grady Martin. In fact, it would be easier to name the Nashville stars that he has not accompanied in the studios than it would be to list all he has.

“We worked round-the-clock back then. It was like being in a submarine. You’d ‘submerge’ and stay ‘down’ for hours, all night long and sometimes the next day, too. If you got tired you curled up under a piano for awhile and got up and played some more.”

Surrounded by such “A-Team” pickers as Bb Moore, Buddy Harman, Ray Edenton, Harold Bradley, Hank Garland, Pig Robbins, Pete Drake, Floyd Cramer, Tommy Jackson, The Anita Kerr Singers, The Jordonaires, and a handful of others, Grady Martin forged a sound and style. Never before or since in the annals of popular music have so few been so responsible for so many hits.

It was hard work, but what Grady remembers most are the good times the pickers shared in the good old days of Nashville recording. Today, he says those historic sessions are “all a blur to me. You can ask me anything except about dates and song titles.”

At his peak, his reputation spread to pop musicians like Perry Como, Al Hirt, Theresa Brewer, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Henry Mancini, Tab Hunter and Burl Ives, all of whom used his talent on records, Martin’s own recording group, The Slewfoot Five, was a pop/jazz act.

As the 1970’s dawned , Grady MArtin returned to playing live on the road. He served a stint in Jerry Reed’s band before Reed made so many movie-making commitments. Requested by Willie Nelson to play on the soundtrack of the film Honeysuckle Rose in 1979, Martin wound up serving as the model for the Slim Pickens character in the movie. He has remained with Nelson in the 1980’s, both touring and recording with the superstar. Nelson remembers Grady from when he played on a then-green songwriter’s first album. Now Martin plays guitar on such huge Nelson hits as the Merle Haggard duet, Pancho & Lefty.

That the spotlight is finally falling on him after years in the darkness of recording studios won’t change good ole Grady a bit. He remains a Buddah-like, lovable, modest country character without a trace of pretense. “Chet’s a star. I’m not a star,” he says. “Makin’ a good record and havin’ it accepted, just bein’ part of havin’ a hit record, that’s what mattered to me.”

Martin’s modesty might be one reason he has received so little recognition before now. “I really don’t do interviews. I never saw why anybody would want to write anything about me. I’m just a factory worker in the studio.”

He’s wrong. He’s much more than a “factory worker.” He’s 0ne of the creative geniuses in the history of country music.

Happy Birthday Sister Bobbie, and Happy New Year

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016


Willie Nelson leads the audience in singing happy birthday to his sister Bobbie, born on January 1st.

Thank you Janis Tillerson for sharing photos from New Year’s Eve at ACL Moody Theater.



2015 was a great year to be a Willie Nelson fan

Friday, January 1st, 2016


Every year when I get ready to write this end-of-year blog and I read back over what Willie Nelson has done, my mind is blown.   I’m exhausted just reading about it.  I always ask, how does one person do all these things in one year?  And I know this is only some of how Willie Nelson spent his time in 2015.   Willie’s doing things that we don’t hear about, that don’t  pop on Facebook — recording or filming scenes to some movie, signing things for auctions.  One time I was having lunch with Lana, Willie’s daughter, and I expressed that sentiment, about how hard Willie works, and tours, and records, and she said, ‘That’s just part of what he does, too.”  So, anyway, here’s some of what he was up to in 2015, and some of the things fans were up to.  Get a cup of coffee, smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em, and be ready to be amazed, like I was.

Thank you so much Willie Nelson for all your hard work and for a wonderful year of music and good times.   And thanks to Willie’s family and band and crew and fans and promoters and security and bus drivers who are always so kind to me.  I couldn’t do this blog without all the kindnesses I receive from everyone, and you know who you are.  Thanks to the fans and crew and band who are so much fun to hang out with at shows.  Best times ever.

And thanks to fans who read this blog, and who send me photos, , take pictures and videos at shows, all the professional photographers who let me share their photos , the fans who proof-read my blog, or point out mistakes.

People love Willie Nelson and they love sharing their stories and collections and pictures and videos.  It is really moving.  This is the 10th year I have been doing this blog, and it just gets more and more fun, and more impossible to keep up with all he does.  I can’t wait to see what Willie Nelson does in 2016.

And happy New Year!  Hope to see you at a show some time.

Love, Linda

p.s.  This is in rough shape, but I have to get it finished today, so I can move on with all things he has already done in 2016.  I can’t keep up.



Willie Nelson and Family started 2015 entertaining fans with music, and kept on doing it all year long.  Once again, Willie invited family and friends to bring in the New Year with him at Austin City Live’s Moody Theater.  Fellow Texas Bill Gibbons joined Willie Nelson & Family for the show.

fa30Willie Nelson continue his fight for the family farmers and good food movement with the Farm Aid fundraising concert in Chicago, Illinois  in September.  For thirty years, he and fellow Board Members John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews have headlined concerts in cities all over the country, and invited friends to help raise funds.   Since 1985, Farm Aid has granted over $22 million to more than 300 groups all over the country.


It’s true, Willie Nelson signs the checks for Farm Aid, including this year’s grant recipients’ checks for $610k.

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In November, Willie Nelson was honored with the prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by the United States Library of Congress in Washington DC.  He was celebrated for his 60-year career in music and his contribution to the American songbook.  There were a series of events honoring Willie,  culminating in a star-studded concert tonight in November. Neil Young, Micah Nelson and Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real, Edie Brickell, Leon Bridges, Rosanne Cash, Ana Gabriel, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Cyndi Lauper, Raul Malo of The Mavericks, Paul Simon and Buckwheat Zydeco. Willie Nelson also performed and sang moving version of “Living in the Promiseland.”  Master of Ceremonies was Don Johnson.


Willie and Annie Nelson watched from a balcony above the stage.


Willie was only the 7th person to win the award, and the first country music artist to receive the prize.  “It is truly a privilege to have Willie Nelson with us in our nation’s capital and to be able to recognize him for the immense contributions he’s made to the culture of America through music,” said U.S. House of Representatives Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress Gregg Harper.

The concert and presentation will air on PBS on January 15, 2016.




Willie Nelson was one of many artists who gathered to honor John Lennon in NYC in December.  Kris Kristofferson, Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, Spoon, John Fogerty, Eric church Chris Stapleton an dmore performed John Lennon’s songs.  Willie Nelson sang a moving version of “Imagine”.  The was recorded and video aired on Dec. 19 on the AMC network.

Image courtesy of ABC Radio (via ABC News Radio)


Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard recorded an album that went #1 on the Billboard Country Chart and straight to to the heart of their fans.  The two friends toured together off and on throughout the year, and have scheduled shows in to 2016.





Willie Nelson joined Kacey Musgraves on her album, “Pageant…”.  They recorded, “Are You Sure” and made a video of it at Austin bar, the Whitehorse.



Willie and Kacey also helped launch  BMI Maui Songwriters Festival in Hawaii, and performed together.  She performed at Farm Aid and joined Willie Nelson & Family for their three-night concert run at end of year in Austin, on Dec. 29, 30, 31.

Lots of people wanted Willie Nelson to record with them, and in 2015 he showed up on lots of albums.



Willie Nelson hosted and headlined the Heartbreaker Banquet on his ranch at Luck Texas.




Fans got to read about Willie Nelson in magazines.freedomleafmagazine1gqtexasmusic9farmers2



Willie Nelson announced his plans for his marijuana business, “Willie’s Reserve”

Willie Nelson fans were inspired to create his likeness in art, straw, clay, duct tape, sand, and pain everywhere



stevepatton2duct tape willie




We got to watch Willie Nelson on television in 2015,  here with John Mellencamp and Mickey Raphael. on Late Show with Steven Colbert


with Jon Stewart on  on one of his last times with The Daily Show

Late Show with Seth Meyers


Willie Nelson appeared on Jimmy Kimmel show twice in 2015.


He read mead tweets on Jimmy Kimmel, along with other artists.


CBS This Morning

The View



Willie Nelson was featured in Saving My Tomorrow, by HBO and The American Museum of Natural History , a six part family series on the environment.


AMERICAN EPIC, a three-part documentary about the trailblazing era when country-wide, the music of ordinary Americans was recorded for the very first time,


More fans got Willie Nelson tattoos in 2015.


Willie Nelson wrote a biography published in May 2015.  Fans loved it.  janine


The Face of Texas is the Wittliff Collections’ first solo exhibition of work by one of America’s finest portrait photographers, Michael O’Brien.

Willie Nelson featured in Earth in Concert Exhibit (opens Nov. 12, 2015)


The California Science Center, the GRAMMY Museum, and Global Wildlife Conservation have partnered to create a one-of-a-kind exhibit that examines the status of the Earth’s biodiversity, while exploring how artists like Sheryl Crow, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Willie Nelson, Sting, and Pharrell Williams have helped raise awareness of the global issues that present threats to our planet.


People dressed their children up like Willie Nelson in 2015, and their pets and themselves



Willie Nelson and Family toured all over the US,




Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney: Fashion Week's Stony Bro Inspo

Willie Nelson’s music  inspired a fashion show in NYC in September.  Designer Mara Hoffman dedicated her Spring 2015 line to Willie Nelson.



Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during the rally at the University of Colorado's Potts Field on Saturday.David R. Jennings Staff PhotographerOctober 10, 2015For more photos please go to

Willie Nelson was present in the presidential election in 2015, too.  Bernie Sanders played, “On the Road Again” before his rally in Boulder, Colorado.  (Maybe other places, too.)  In Washington to receive the Gershwin Prize in November, Willie was asked if he had a choice yet for president, and Willie said, “I’m a big Hillary and Bernie fan.”


We will get to see Willie Nelson in movies he worked on in 2015.  He had a cameo in the Bill Murray filme, “Rock the Kasbah”

Willie Nelson started in the movie filmed at his Luck Ranch, “Miracle”





Willie Nelson signed a lot of guitars  in 2015.  Some for auctions for good causes, many for fans who treasure them for ever and los for e-bayers  who line up for his autograph whenever they can.



Willie Nelson’s Subaru Impreza Commercial Make a Dog’s Day Song was  a big hit.


Willie Nelson & Family performed at festivals, amphitheaters, old theaters, new civic ceners, casinos, favorite Texas venue’s like Billy Bob’s Texas.


Willie Nelson & Family played big festivals, Vegas Casinos, State Fairs, and favorite haunts in Texas like Billy Bob’s Texas and Gruen’s .



kmwMarch 27, 2015 Whitewater in New Braunfels,Tx-3889borgatabanquet1beck2The GRAMMY Foundation is honoring Farm Aid tonight at the annual Legacy Concert. The theme is music for a cause. John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson are among the artists performing.ventura3foxbuddy


Willie Nelson had his own line of designer guitar picks, just for him and his band and crew.   Budrock “the Illuminator” Prewitt and Guthrie Thomas created new guitar picks for every tour, album or special occasion.


Willie Nelson was as big as ever on ebay, a search just now brought up over 12,000 items, ranging in price from .99 cents to an original oil painting for $1,500,000.00 (or best offer).  Lots of guitars signed by Willie Nelson .  That must be a big business for some folks.   I got this cool ashtray.






Willie took some time at home on Maui, a well-deserved break from touring.

Good times in Maui last night & Merry Christmas to all!

He spent time with family, played poker and hung out with friends, and crashed his son’s concert at Charley’s, too.




Willie Nelson invited family and friends to celebrate the Fourth of July with him in Texas at one of his famous picnics.



The fans showed up for Willie Nelson and he showed up for them every time, with great music and  autographs, kisses, hugs and handshakes.  He made some dreams come true.


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Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson support FightForAccess and realm of Caring


equality and gay rights




Willie Nelson

Rolling Stone: Top Fifty Country Albums Every Rock Fan Should Own


Michelle Manning Barishgz

Willie Nelson’s guitar Trigger was featured in a video


In July, Willie Nelson helped honor Waylon Jennings at ACL Moody theater, along with Alison Krauss, Lee Ann Womack,  Kris Kristofferson, Jennings’ widow Jessi Colter, Kacey Musgraves, Eric Church and Sturgill Simpson,  Chris Stapleton.


ROUND ROCK, Texas – Thousands of fans lined up outside the Dell Diamond on Thursday to see the Express play and hopefully get a Willie Nelson bobblehead.

The first 2,500 fans took home the first officially sanctioned bobblehead of the Red Headed Stranger, complete with braids, a guitar and Express jersey.

Willie Nelson Cover Bands shared their love and admiration for Willie Nelson and performed his hits night after night for Willie Nelson fans, like this one with Trey Jones.

Willie Nelson got his own emoji.


Willie Nelson brought 2015 to a close home in Texas with three shows at the Moody Theater (Dec. 29, 30 and 31) with guests Kacey Musgrages and Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real.

Can’t wait for next year and more music and concerts from Willie Nelson and Family.

Willie Nelson rocks Jingle Bells on Maui

Friday, December 25th, 2015

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 25th, 2015


I am thinking about you today because it is Christmas

Friday, December 25th, 2015

I am thinking of you today because it is Christmas, and I wish you happiness.

And tomorrow, because it will be the day after Christmas, I shall still wish you happiness; and so on throughout the year.

I may not be able to tell you about it every day because I may be far away, or because both of us may be very busy, or perhaps I cannot even afford to pay the postage on so many letters; or find the time to write them.

But that makes no difference. The thought and the wish will be here just the same: In my work and in the business of life I mean to try not to be unfair to you in any way. In my pleasure if we can be together, I would like to share the fun with you. Whatever joy or success that comes to you will make me glad.

Without pretense, and in plain words — Good Will is what I mean. May the spirit of Christmas be yours throughout the year.

— Henry Van Dyke

Happy birthday, Lukas Nelson

Friday, December 25th, 2015


Merry Christmas from Willie and the Boys

Friday, December 25th, 2015

art:  Steve Brooks

Merry Christmas from Willie Nelson (2007)

Thursday, December 24th, 2015


Willie Nelson, “Here Comes Santa Clause”

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

On November 22, 1946 Gene Autry rode in the Santa Claus Lane parade in Hollywood, with Roy Rogers, Jack Benny and Red Skelton. When Autry hears children shout, “Here comes Santa Claus,” he’s inspired to write “Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane)”

Merry Christmas, 2004

Thursday, December 24th, 2015


Thursday, December 24th, 2015