August 14th, 2022

Willie Nelson at the Armadillo World Headquarters (8.12.72)

August 14th, 2022

50 Years Ago, Willie Nelson United Cowboys and Hippies at the Armadillo World Headquarters
by:  Michael Corcoran

With the Vietnam War still raging in the summer of 1972, there was a cultural chasm that seemed too wide to cross in Texas: Longhairs weren’t welcome in honky-tonks, and cowboys didn’t mingle with “peaceniks.” But five words built a bridge.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Willie Nelson!”

On Aug. 12, 1972, a short-haired, clean-shaven Nelson stepped onto the stage of a counterculture haven and changed country music. Roughly half the crowd of 400 came to the Armadillo World Headquarters that night to see opening act Greezy Wheels, a local favorite, while the other half was split evenly between hardcore country fans who usually saw Willie at the Broken Spoke and the hippies in cowboy hats curious to see the country Bob Dylan.

“Willie seemed a little nervous before he came out,” recalls Cleve Hattersley of Greezy Wheels. “Nobody knew what to expect, but as soon as he started singing ‘Hello Walls’ and all his other songs that had been hits for others, it was complete adoration from the crowd.”

Country acts usually played for their contracted amount of time— between an hour and 90 minutes—but Willie, bassist Bee Spears, and drummer Paul English played for almost three hours. And nobody left. As the divergent groups of people filed out together post-show, drenched in the sweat of satisfaction, they realized they had more in common than they thought.

Subscribe to Texas Highways

Willie’s first concert at the Armadillo—50 years ago this Friday—was the Big Bang of Austin being known as a music mecca. The word on this groovy bohemian cowboy scene got out via dispatches in Rolling Stone from Chet Flippo, a grad student attending UT on the G.I. Bill.

Eleven months after his ’Dillo debut, Nelson and friends drew 40,000 to his first Fourth of July Picnic in Dripping Springs, just west of Austin. “Outlaw country,” “cosmic cowboy,” “progressive country”—whatever you called it—had become a national fascination. Everyone was singing about “Willie and Waylon and the boys,” from No. 1 single “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” by Waylon Jennings, who followed Willie to the Armadillo.

But the groundwork for the comingling of good ol’ boys and hippies was laid years earlier by Kenneth Threadgill, who played every Sunday night at the Split Rail Inn from 1965-72. A country beer joint on South Lamar, the Rail was “where the heads meet the necks,” an unofficial slogan.

Threadgill was a hardcore country singer, a throwback to Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams, but he often had longhairs in his band. He was known, after all, as the guy who mentored rock star Janis Joplin at his Threadgill’s Tavern on North Lamar in 1962.

After his Armadillo bow, Willie became the main force and spiritual guide of what this new musical movement has become. He was always a different kind of Nashville artist, singing around the beat and playing gypsy jazz guitar. But after years of wearing a suit, trying to fit in, Willie moved to where his true audience was. His new best friend Leon Russell, a former studio musician who had gone through a similar cultural transformation, was a model for the country outlaw look.

When Armadillo honcho Eddie Wilson heard that Willie, wife Connie, and the kids had moved into an apartment in Austin in July 1972, he made it his mission to book Nelson into his hippie beer barn. It wasn’t hard. Willie stopped by the Armadillo not long after his utilities had been turned on. As detailed in Wilson’s Armadillo World Headquarters memoir, Willie just showed up one afternoon. “I’ve been looking for you,” said Wilson. To which Nelson replied, “Well, you found me.”

Willie Nelson & Family at Bethel Woods Center (8.13.22)

August 14th, 2022

Thank you Budrock, for sharing photos from the show last night in Bethel Woods Center, in Bethel, NY. What a unique view, and what a confusing lighting console.

August 13th, 2022

Outlaw Music Festival (8.13.22)

August 13th, 2022

Outlaw Music Festival featuring Willie Nelson & Family, ZZ Top, Zach Bryan, Charley Crockett, The War and Treaty, and Particle Kid, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

Photo: Rob Johnson

Willie Nelson, “There’s Nothing I Can Do About it Now”

August 13th, 2022

Fun times, waiting for Willie at the Back Yard

August 13th, 2022

Thanks to Scott Moore for this photo of Pat and Janis and I at Willie Nelson’s 81st birthday at The Backyard in Bee Cave Texas, USA. April 29, 2014.

Willie Nelson and Family at Outlaw Music Festival

August 13th, 2022

Bobbie Nelson inducted into Texas Country Music Hall of Fame (August 12, 2017)

August 12th, 2022

Bobbie Lee Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas in 1931. She is an American pianist and singer, sister of Texas Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Willie Nelson and a member of his band, Willie Nelson and Family, touring full time since 1973.

At the age of five, Bobbie’s grandmother started teaching her to play piano on a pump organ, a year later, her grandfather, impressed by her potential talent, bought her a piano for $35. When her brother Willie picked up the guitar, the siblings started trying out popular tunes and gospel favorites together around the house with their grandmother. Soon the Nelsons were performing at Abbott High school functions and at the local Methodist Church.

At the age of 14 Bobbie turned pro and began traveling with evangelists all around the Lone Star State. In 1973, Bobbie and Willie teamed up again to record with Atlantic Records. Taking her first airplane flight, Bobbie met Willie in New York City to play piano on recordings that would later be released on the 1976 album “The Troublemaker”, and also joined her brother on the albums “Shotgun Willie” (1973) and “Phases and Stages” (1974). From then on, Bobbie stayed extremely busy keeping up with Willie’s frequent touring and recording sessions, occasionally playing with other artists (Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and the Supersuckers to name a few).

In 2008, Bobbie Nelson released her solo debut album, “Audiobiography” and seven years later Bobbie and Willie recorded the album December Day, which was inspired by the jam sessions the siblings often enjoyed while on the bus from one show to another.

Read entire article here

Willie talks about Patsy Cline and “Crazy”

August 10th, 2022

Willie Nelson Recalls Patsy Cline’s Husband Waking Her Up In The Middle Of The Night To Listen To His Demo Of “Crazy”

Is there an all-around, better country song that exists than “Crazy”?

You’d be hard-pressed to point to a more classic, meaningful song within the genre of country music other than that one, and it was famously recorded by the great Patsy Cline in the early 60’s.

Of course, it was originally written by the one and only Willie Nelson, but shot to the #2 spot on the country charts in 1962 when Patsy released her iconic version as a single.

And it’s probably one of the most famous country classics of all time… I mean, who doesn’t know and love that song?

Willie actually wrote it in less than an hour (originally titled “Stupid”), but in his 1988 book Willie: An Autobiography, he admitted that it was it was hard to find artists interested in recording it due to its use of several chords, instead of the standard three used for country music compositions at the time.

Patsy’s husband, Charlie Dick, who was a record promotor for Starday Records at the time, had previously brought her Willie’s song “Night Life,” but she hated it and told him not to bring her anymore Willie Nelson songs, because she didn’t want to sing about the vulnerability of topics like love and loss.

Can you even imagine saying something like that? Talk about “crazy…”

But in a 2010 interview with Mass Live, Willie told the whole story about how Charlie ended up getting Patsy to record what would ultimately become her signature song:

“I first met her one night back there in Tootsies Bar, drinking a little beer and her husband Charlie Dick was there and we were talking, listening to some songs that I’d just brought up from Texas.

I had Tootsie put a couple of 45s on her jukebox. One of them had ‘Crazy’ and ‘Night Life.’ And Charlie Dick just really loved ‘Crazy’ and wanted to play it for Patsy.”

I guess Patsy left the famous Nashville bar much earlier than her husband and Willie did, because Charlie wanted her to record it so bad that, eventually, he drove Willie to their house and got his wife out of bed to listen to it.

Though Willie admits they were probably too drunk to be doing all of that in the middle of the night, and probably also thought Charlie had a death wish going and waking his wife up like that, it worked out favorably for all of them in the end:

“We went over to his house and he wanted me to go in and meet Patsy and I wouldn’t do it. I said ‘No it’s late and we’re drinking, I don’t want to wake her up.’

He said ‘Aw she’ll be fine.’ I didn’t go in. He went in and then she came out and got me and made me go in.”

She welcomed him with open arms, making everybody coffee as Willie taught her how to sing the song she was eager to record, and they went on to become great friends, even touring together some at the time:

“She was a wonderful person, fixed us coffee, was just a great gal. I got to know her real well, we toured some together and she was just great.”

He went on to add that he believes she’s the greatest country female vocalist of all time, and knows that no one will ever sing his stunning song quite the way she did:

“Well, she was the greatest female vocalist maybe all around ever, but for sure, for country, that I ever heard. There’s this joke.

After Patsy Cline did ‘Crazy’ and everyone else has tried it, and this joke is really not meant to hurt anybody else’s feelings but when they say ‘How many girl singers does it take to sing ‘Crazy’ and they answered ‘All of them.’

But as Patsy Cline nailed it, who else since then, it’s like Ray Charles singing ‘Georgia.’ I had enough nerve to cover him but I never thought I did as good a job on it as he did.”

I’m convinced that all the great country classic we love so much have a wild story like this behind them.

Though the industry, and the world, has clearly changed a lot since the 1960’s, it’s so cool to hear things like this about mega stars like Willie and his early days trying to make it in country music.

And let’s be really honest… Patsy would’ve been crazy not to record it, and I think she was well-aware of that fact herself:

Willie also recorded his own version of “Crazy” for his 1962 debut album, …And Then I Wrote:

Willie Nelson & Family at Ting Pavilion in Charlottesville, VA (8/9/2022)

August 10th, 2022

Thanks to Budrock “The Illuminator” Prewitt (Willie gave him that name), for sharing photos from last night’s show. You can almost feel the love and enjoyment and excitement of the fans, getting to see Willie Nelson and family in concert.

Cool venue.

Here’s Buddy’s unique view, from his office last night. He does such a great job lighting the band so we can enjoy the show, no matter where we are sitting.

And there’s Bobby Lemons, Sound Engineer

“Letters to America,” — Willie Nelson

August 10th, 2022

“One year ago, the release of Willie’s and my “Dear Trigger” video from our book, Willie’s Letters to America. Willie’s story, music and words, me narrating. 370,000 views – we musta done sump’n right.”

— Turk Pipkin

Willie Nelson joins Dolly Parton at Dollywood for Christmas Special

August 9th, 2022

Some lucky fans in Tennessee at Dollywood got to see Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton at the park, riding around in a golf cart. Willie sent his band home for break before next leg of the Outlaw Country tour and he went on to Tennessee to join Dolly, who invited him to perform on her holiday movie musical “Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas.”

The film is set in Dollywood and will tell the behind-the-scenes story of making a television special as Parton learns valuable lessons while being visiting by the Three Wise Men, according to the NBC synopsis.

Willie Nelson and Family in Bethlehem, PA (8/6/22)

August 9th, 2022

Thanks so much to Carol Sidoran for sharing her great photos from the show in Bethlehem, PA.

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Poncho and Lefty”

August 9th, 2022