Thanks so much to Mark Hughes from the Willie Nelson General Store in Nashville for forwarding these pictures he took of Willie Nelson at the Ryman Theater last November 5, 2009. Willie performed with Mickey Raphael, and other Nashville musicians, singing classic country songs, which he recorded for an album recently with producer by T Bone Burnette.
The Willie Nelson General Store in Nashville has been operated by Willie Nelson’s friends Jeanie and Frank Oakley for over 30 years. Mark and Kay Hughes work in the family business and continue to add to the museum’s collections and gift items.
The 10,000 square foot museum and gift shop also offers souvenirs of Nashville and other classic country music stars. They now have a website, as well, where you can learn about the museum and it’s collections, and purchase gift items and souvenirs.
The Willie Nelson and Friends General Store & Museum was founded July 4th, 1979 in Madison, TN with Willie’s good friends Frank and Jeanie Oakley as the storekeepers. The General Store began life as a local art & picture framing store that Willie frequented often while visiting his friends in nearby Ridgetop, Tennessee.
As a result of his visits, the art shop quickly amassed a large display of framed artwork and photographs of country music stars as well as a lot of Willie memorabilia and souvenirs. In the fall of 1979, Willie was voted country music’s highest honor – “Entertainer of the Year”. And before long more people were coming to see the Willie items than those looking for picture framing…and so the Willie Nelson General Store was born.
And what a store it was…full of fun but certainly not what you generally expect to find. Sure, we sold souvenirs but in those days we were known as much for our parties as our souvenirs. Storekeeper Frank Oakley was always quick to dream up a new party.
The Willie Nelson and Friends General Store is located at located at 2613 McGavock Pike, in Nashville (directly across the street from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel). You can reach them at 615-885-1515 or on the web at www.WillieNelsonGeneralStore.com.