The Press and Pies for America’s Newest Heart-throb: Willie Nelson in Australia

by:  Richard Carey

When the first pie hit, Willie Nelson was at his press conference telling 27 microphones that he considered himself a success the first time he made money from music.

It was a pineapple-flavored, creamy thing and caught the Channel 7 sound man fair in the left ear.

When the second pie hit, Willie was closeted with Mike Willesee who was making a rare excursion outside the studio to interview someone.

This time it was a strawberry variety and it splattered a businessman and his wife as they sipped gin and tonics in the cocktail bar of the Sebel townHouse in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

“Willie would have loved this,” said “roadie” Budy Prewitt.  “This is his thing.   Since he became a star he can’t roar with us.  You know man, raise hell, drink whiskey, talk loud and have a bit of fun.”

“Hell, there’s nothing he likes better than — how do you say it — raging.”

It seems the country and western star’s arrival in Australia coincided with the birthday of one of the band members.  Hence the pie throwing.

“We’ve got a tradition that anyone who’s having a birthday gets a couple of pies thrown at him,” confided Buddy above the ragings of the pie-speckled businessman.

Only yesterday, during Willie’s press conference, throwers were off target and left the hotel not knowing quite what to do about the messy remains (and outraged victims) of the band’s exuberance.

Downstairs from the Sebel cocktail bar, Willie was still performing.

The 47-year-old “outlaw” of country and western music was playing Mr. Nice Guy, still telling people he was ‘very honored’ to be given a country and western award by a Tamworth radio station; admitting to being a “a bit-of-a-gambler”; playing down the near riot at his New Zealand concert and saying he wanted to cut records with Ray Charles, B.B. King and Bob Dylan.

Willie, 47, but labelled in his press material as “America’s newest heart-throb”,  looked a bit embarrassed by the attentions of so many reporters.

And Bee Spears, his bass guitarist, confirmed that he was.

“Sure he’s making a lot of money and is a big star these days but if you offered him anonymity then I’m sure he’d prefer it,” Bee said.

“He hates it.  Really misses being just one of the boys.”

“When all this press-stuff is over downstairs, he’ll probably join us again,” Buddy Prewitt said.  For some pie throwing?  “Hell, why not,” said Buddy.

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