Bill Cosby, Willie Nelson

billcosby                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    by Raoul Hernandez

Austin Chronicle: Have you ever met Willie Nelson?

Bill Cosby: Yeah, I love Willie. I was playing Las Vegas. This was two decades ago. I was at the Hilton, and [my wife] Camille was with me. Miles Davis comes to town, calls the dressing room, and we’re talking, talking, talking, and he wants to talk to Camille.

He says, “What time does Bill go on?” And she says, “Oh, 8:30.” And he says, “Well, what are you going to do, because I have Cicely [Tyson] here? C’mon, I’ll take you to see Willie Nelson.”

Now let me tell you something, man. I had never seen Willie Nelson. I knew about him; we’d played Harrah’s at the same time, only I was in the 750-seat show room, and he was upstairs in their 4,000-person convention center.

But I will tell you, this man’s voice, his intonation: this man can sing the softest, most wonderful drinking song, and he can also do the softest, most wonderful gospel song.

AC: One of the things he’s known for here in Austin is Willie weed. No one has stronger weed. Everyone wants to get on his bus. Has he ever invited you onto the bus?

BC: Oh no, no, no. See, Willie and I graduated from the same class of the Kennedy Honors, and I found Willie to be fantastically wonderful. When I was given the Mark Twain Award, Willie and Wynton Marsalis played. As far as Willie’s concerned, I love Willie.

Now, is Willie smoking weed with Billy? No. No, we’re not gonna do that, but he’s never asked me to. And I don’t think I’ll be getting on the bus [laughs].

Jimmy Heath, Willie Nelson, and Wynton Marsalis improvise together at the Twelth Annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize.

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