Willie Nelson and Nelly, a lot in common

Want to go?
Who: Nelly
When: 6 p.m. (gates) Sunday, Sept. 3
Who: Willie Nelson
When: 6 p.m. (gates) Tuesday, Sept. 5
Where: Both concerts are at The Shell, 10 Harnett St., Wilmington.
Info: Tickets to Nelly range from $35 to $150. Tickets to Willie Nelson range from $70 to $150.
Details: Purchase tickets at TheShellWilmington.com.

by:  Bridget Callahan

The rapper performs at The Shell on Sept. 3, and country legend Nelson plays there Sept. 5.

This week, Wilmington’s newest concert venue, The Shell, brings some September star power.

With rapper Nelly coming back to town Sunday, Sept. 3, and the legendary Willie Nelson returning on Tuesday, Sept. 5, downtown bartenders beware — the crowds are gonna get weird. But that’s why we love this city, right?

You might think no two musicians could be further apart than an aging country songwriter and a young(ish) rap superstar. And you might be right. But let’s see what they have in common.

1. They’re both Grammy winners

Nelly has won three Grammys and has been nominated 12 times. He scored those Grammys for some particularly catchy singles, including 2003 classic “Hot in Herre,” which can still be heard every single time a bachelorette party goes to the jukebox.

Nelson has eight Grammys, but has been nominated 49 times. At the venerable age of 84, he’s exactly twice the age of the 42-year-old Nelly. So get cracking, Nelly. You still have time.

2. They both like to party

Everyone knows that Willie Nelson likes weed. The singer/songwriter has been arrested three times for possession, which is 15 times less than I would have guessed. One time, a prosecutor famously tried to settle the case for a small fine if Nelson agreed to sing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” for the court, but the judge didn’t go for it.

Nelly has only been arrested once for possession, famously after leaving his Wilmington show at the Azalea Festival two years ago. Busted in Tennessee for faulty bus tags, state troopers found drugs and several guns on his tour bus, including a gold-plated pistol. Nelly was released on bail, but the lesson is clear — make sure your tags are up to date before you drive through Tennessee, and don’t take your nicest pistol on tour with you.

I mean, this is something we all have common with them, but these two take it to the extreme. Nelson’s assets were seized by the IRS in 1990, who claimed he owed them $32 million. He eventually came to a creative settlement with them where he released a double album, “The IRS Tapes,” with almost all the profits going towards the debt.

In 2016, Nelly was called before the feds to the tune of over $2 million in back taxes owed. To help, fans cooked up a scheme under the hashtag #SaveNelly, where they streamed “Hot in Herre” over and over on Spotify, with each play sending $0.006 back to the artist.

4. They love their signature looks

In 2015, Nelly’s famous Band-Aid, which he wore on stage for years in support of his jailed friend Lavell Webb, sold at auction in Atlanta for $100,000. Nelly has gone through lots of Band-Aids, but supposedly that particular one was the very first one he wore on stage. That’s a long time to keep a Band-Aid.

Nelson is known, of course, for his long, red-now-gray braids. He did cut them off once, in 1983, when he gave them to Waylon Jennings at a party to celebrate Jennings’ sobriety. The gift was apparently appreciated, because years later when Jennings’ estate was auctioned off in 2014, those braids were still around, and sold for $37,000.

Note to my friends: Do not ever give me your hair for my birthday. I don’t want it.

From “Crazy” to “Whiskey River” to “Momma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” Willie Nelson has either written or recorded some of the most influential outlaw country songs of all time. He is a country king. If people ever try to argue that with you, just walk away, because they’re idiots.

Nelly is known for his association with St. Louis, but like Nelson he was born in Texas, and he’s got a little country in him too. From the title of his hit debut album “Country Grammar,” to his 2004 collaboration with Tim McGraw on “Over and Over,” his cover of Thomas Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man” and his 2013 remix of “Cruise” with country group Florida Georgia Line, Nelly’s been dipping his toe in the country crossover waters for while. Rumors in 2015 pointed towards a country-style EP in the works, but that never made it to fruition.


Contact StarNews arts and entertainment at 910-343-2343.

Leave a Reply