Willie Nelson Museum, Country Music Hall of Fame

Willie’s Sneakers Come Home

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum received a pair of size 9 tennis shoes and a well-worn headband from Willie Nelson.  The museum encourages artists to donate items that the public will recognize.  These are no exceptions.


by Robert K. Oermann
THe Tennesseen

Nashville gets its first look at the new Willie Nelson Museum exhibit this morning and yesterday “The Red-Headed Stranger,” himself, toured his tribute for the first time.

After the tourists left yesterday afternoon, Nelson entered the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with Country Music Foundation director Bil Ivey, CMF president Frances Preston and CBS Records Nashville chief Rick Blackburn to view the display that chronicles his fabulous career.  The Country Music Foundation operates the Hall of Fame and Museum.

The easy-going country-pop superstar was pleased with what he saw.

As he wandered through the display with wife Connie and the executives, Nelson began reminising about his life.

The new exhibit begins with Nelson’s boyhood in Abbott, Texas.  “My grandparents raised sister Bobbie and me,” he said, gazing at a photo of his relatives.

Connie smiled at a childhood photo of her husband and observed that the children have his freckles.

Nelson turned to his companions and said, “See my football picture from highschool?  You should have seen our football field.  Rocks all over it.”

When he moved into the section that described his early professional career, he reminisced about some of the early nightclubs he worked in as a teenager.

The Nashville segment of the display features early records and sheet music.  “I talked to (Pamper Music publishing founder) Hal Smith today.  He’s still there in the same building.”

“Hank Cochran and I were in the studio co-writing with a couple of guitars one day, back there (behind Pamper) with no windows.  I got the idea for Hello Walls there.  But Hank got up to get a phone call.  By the time he got back I was finished.  I said, ‘Sorry, Hank.’”

The song became Nelson’s first big Music City hit as a tunesmith. 

Later during the tour, Nelson joked about golfing when he got to the display of his personalized bag and clubs.

Ivey and Preston described the idea behind the new exhibit to Nelson and told him that Wrangler is financing the new display.

The Willie Nelson exhibit replaces the one devoted to Dolly Parton.  Unlike the show devoted to the buxum blonde, this one is heavily dependent on photos rather than memorabilia.

It will remain on display duing the next two years at the museum, which is right behind Opryland. The Grand Ole Opry is Nashville’s most visited tourist attraction.

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