Poodie Lock: Country Music’s Backstage Legend

 

Country Line Magazine
June 2002
Poodie Lock:  Country Music’s Backstage Legend
Part I

Poodie Lock, Willie Nelson’s stage manager for almost 30 years has heard and seen it all.  And, he doesn’t mind telling it the way it is or the way it was.

Poodie is a nickname he ws branded with since he was a kid.  ” I guess, because I was a mess.  I don’t know,”  Poodie says.

I ask Poodie to describe himself in three words.  “Pretty f—— lucky.”  He stops laughing, thinks, and decides to say, “A gifted life.”

In his spare time he likes to play golf, drink tequila, and chase women, but not necessarily in that order.  His motto for life is “A fartin horse never tires.”  He also claims that a rolling stone gathers neither moss nor dirt.

His proudest accomplishment is getting a job with Willie and still being alive.  “We’re still here.  We’re the oldest band and crew alive who still travels.  We’ve outlived the Beatles.  We got underwear older than most of those kids who are playing right now,” Poodie confesses.

Poodie was 12 years old when he met Willie in Waco.  Who is Willie Nelson?  Poodie says, “The king of the common man.”

I asked him if he could tell me something about Willie that no one else knows.  “Yes, but I can’t put it in print.”  Poodie tells me how Willie is a national treasure, but that he’s definitely had his lower moments.  “He’s had five wives, hell what do you think?”

Ridng on the road for about 275 days a year, Poodie says keeps him young.  When Poodie first started out on the road he says that every day was a story.  Their first bus was previously owned by Porter Wagner and Dolly Parton.  It had 6 bunks in the back and three private cabins.  “We were in hog heaven.  We were bullet proof.  We were young.” 

Poodie explains, “Willie got real hot real fast.  We did eight shows in eight days.  Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain went from member 70 to number one in two weeeks.  And then, we didn’t come back for eight months.  We had to buy new underwear in Arizona.

In the words of Willie according to Poodie, “Indecision may or may not be our biggest problem.  Strive to be mediocre and those who contribute must leave.  We are like the most unorganized bunch and people try to organize us.  One guy from the Rolling Stones lasted only one gig because he couldn’t find the gig or the band.”

Poodie says that the band wasn’t hired.  It was conceived.  The people in this organisation stay.

Willie is 69 years old.  He jogs five miles a day, plays 18 holes of golf, does 2 1/2 hour shows, and then signs autographs for 2 hours.  “The man is an animal,” Poodie says.  I ask him what was Willie’s secret.  Poodie insists that it’s the road.  “It keeps you alive and it keeps you going. I go home and see people my age, ones I went to school with ahd they’re old.  They look old.”  Born in 1952 in Waco, Poodie’s birthday is the sam day as Stevie Ray Vaughan – October 3.

Surrounded by gifted women in show business, Poodie has had flings or relationps with legendary Emmy Lou Harris, Tanya Tucker and Bonnie Raitt.  “I was married to Bonnie Rait once until we got sober,” Poodie admits.  He has also shopped with Dolly once when she was wearing a t-shirt and no wig or makeup.

Austin area country western singer Kevin Fowler walks up, “I’m trying to find something good to say about you, Poodie,” Kevin jokes.  “Nah, he’s a true friend to Texas musicians.”

Poodie comments, “He (Kevin) used to have hair on his ass, now there’s none at all.”

Kevin says that Poodie gave him a gig at the Hilltop when no one else would.  First Kevin would play for tips and $50.  Then he got a band and was paid $100.  “Then,” Poodie says, “he started selling thongs and it was all downhill from there.”  Kevin offers me an onion ring.  “Sample this.  This is what it’s all about,” Kevin insists.

There are two memorable moments that stick out in Poodie’s mind.  The first one was when they played for the 92nd Airborne in North Carolina for 25,000 soldiers.  It was during the IRS ordeal.  According to Poodie, the general placed his hand on Willie’s shoulder and said, “Let me tell you something Willie Nelson.  We know you’ve had a little trouble with the government, and I know it wasn’t your fault.  Everyone here at the 82nd Airborne will defend you and build a perimeter aound you to protect you anytime, anywhere.  You are what America is all about.”

Poodie says that they paid their taxes to a guy in Connecticut who didn’t pay thier taxes nor filed them causing Willie a two and half million-dollar debt.  Poodie says that they ended up filing suit.

The second unforgettble experience was playing at the Olympics.  Willie wore his cowboy hat and black jacket.  Willie’s presence was not advertised beforehand.  He sang Bridge Over Troubled Waters talking through the chorus saying, “That will ease our mind.”  Poodie says that Willie signed about 2,000 autographs to Russians, Chinese, everybody.  “He’s like the grandfather of the world.”  Somebody told Poodie, “Ya know they’re taking medals away from these athletes for doing drugs, but they bring Willie Nelson to close the damn Olympics.  What’s up with that?”

Poodie believes that marijuana should be legalized.  “Nobody is going to smoke a joint and go kill 10 kids at McDonald’s,” Poodie preaches.  “I never smoked any pot like that.  And I’ve smoked a  lot of pot in many different places all over the world.”

Flashing back to the fairgrounds in Baton Rouge, Poodie remembers when Wille’s crew played with Jimmy Buffet, Jerry Jeff Walker and Asleep at the Wheel. Â Willie’s time to perform was supposed to be at 9 p.m.  They didn’t go on until 1 a.m.  “We did everything we could waiting — drank five cases of beer.  We were toast.  And Bee Spears, the bass player, walked over to Willie and goes, tell ya what Willie boy, you don’t have a hair on your ass if you don’t play until the sun comes up.  Willie goes (Poodie playing an imaginary guitar) diar, dair and dair for 7 1/2 hours.  It started out 50 to 60,000 peple.  When the sun came up, there was still about 20,000 people there,” Poodies tells. “Willie never peed.  I couldn’t believe it.  Bee just went over and peed off the side of the stage and never stopped playing.

…to be continued…. stay tuned for Part II

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