Baylor University President Cancels Willie Nelson Concert (8/21/88)

August 21, 1988

HOUSTON:  Singer Willie Nelson says he is very upset that Baylor University president Herbert Reynolds will not let him play a benefit concert at the school’s new events center in Waco.

“They do really make me mad when they tell me I can’t play in Waco. Waco’s my hometown.  It gets my red Irish hair up, “Nelson told a Houston newspaper Friday from his hotel in Beverly Hills, California.  “Some pressure was applied, or maybe the guy felt sanctimonious, like his hallowed hall was too good for me to play in.”

Nelson, a country singer and movie star who is no red-headed stranger to trouble, said his concert promoter, Tom Gresham, was told by Reynolds that the benefit concert was canceled this week because of protests that Nelson’s concerts have drawn from police groups.

His concerts in Rhode Island were picketed last month by police who objected to Nelson’s benefit last year for an American Indian convicted of killing a federal officer.

Reynolds said little about why he canceled the show, which was to raise money for the legal fund of some of the citizens of Leroy.  More than 300 people in the small Central Texas town are fighting to recover part of the savings they lost last year when state authorities closed the uninsured Leroy Bank.

To keep the Leroy benefit alive, Nelson has made arrangements to move the concert to the Heart O’ Texas Coliseum, a county owned arena.

Nelson said he became involved when his barber in Abbott, where Nelson grew up, introduced him to a preacher in nearby Leroy, who explained the town’s problem.

Reynolds said only that Nelson had not done what he could to “strengthen the moral fiber of our nation.”

But Nelson said that if Reynolds did not like something he had done, he should not take it out on the people of Leroy.

Nelson said plans for the concert called for 80 percent of the proceeds to go to the Leroy Bank Depositor’s Association and 20 percent for Baylor’s new Ferrell Special Events Center.  Nelson attended Baylor for two semesters in 1954.

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