The Willie Charisma (Buddy Magazine, June 1975)

Buddy Magazine
June 1975
by Mike Rhyner

Who is this Willie Nelson and why is he hosting those giant music festivals?

What is this Willie Nelson charisma that has caused the redneck to make peace with the hippie?  That can get the cowboys to sit down in the dust and share a beer and a joint with a longhair?  That can make an outdoor festival in Texas in July the nation’s largest annual music event?

I’m afraid I can’t answer that question.  You have to experience for yourself the excitement of the Willie Nelson performance.  The energy of the crowd, generated by the man with the gut-string guitar with a hole worn right through the top of it from years of hard picken’.

Willie himself doesn’t understand it.  He just rolls with the punches, although it does give him a few anxious moments.  Like  few weekends ago at an outdoor concert in Dallas when a young lady, sans shirt, was hoisted above the heads of the crowd and demanded a kiss from Willie.  When he obliged she grabbed his guitar strap and wouldn’t let go.  Rather than be pulled off the 10-foot tall stage, Willie and some stagehands pulled her up and escorted her down the back steps.  After regaining his composure, Willie returned to sing for a few more hours.

Willie’s nationally famous outdoor country music spectacular, the Willie Nelson Third Annual Fourth of July Picnic, will happen this year at Liberty Hill, Texas, about 30 miles north of Austin on a green country slope where the South Gabriel River winds into the Texas hill country.

The site is more accessible than the site of the historic 1st Annual Picnic near Dripping Springs  and is covered with trees, two ponds and the winding fork of the San Gabriel River.

Appearing this year with Willie and his Family are the Pointer sister, the Charlie Daniel Band, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge, Billy Swan, Donnie Fritts, Doug Sahm, Billy C., Milton Carroll, Alex Harvey, Delbert McClinton, Johnny Bush, Floyd Tillman, and like all Willie Nelson performances, especially the Picnic, there will probably be a few artists appear unannounced.  Leon Russell was onstage at sunup at Dripping Springs singing gospel songs to the early arrivals and last year John Sebastian and David Carradine spent the Forth in front of Texas picnic freaks.

Leave a Reply