Musicians Hall of Fame: Willie Nelson

Farm Aid “Each year, Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews headline a Farm Aid concert to bring together a wide variety of musicians, farmers and fans for one mission: keeping family farmers on their land. Farm Aid is the longest running benefit concert series in America, raising more than $43 million to help family farmers thrive all over the country while inspiring millions of people to learn about the Good Food movement.” Read more.

“The event in Saratoga Springs, 28 miles north of Albany, will feature Nelson and other Farm Aid board members John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews, as well as other artists to be announced soon. Tickets go on sale to Farm Aid members June 18 and to the general public June 28, the Farm Aid organization announced on Friday.” Read more.

Wilie Nelson and Farm Aid Musicians
Wilie Nelson and Farm Aid Musicians

Willie Hugh Nelson (born April 30, 1933) “is an American country singer-songwriter, author, poet, actor and activist. He reached his greatest fame during the outlaw country movement of the 1970s, but remains iconic, especially in American popular culture.

“Now in his 70’s, he continues to tour and has performed in concerts and fundraisers with other major musicians, including Bob Dylan, and Dave Matthews. He also continues to record albums prolifically in new genres that embrace reggae, blues, jazz, folk, and popular music.

Trigger

“Nelson’s principal guitar is a Martin N-20 nylon-string acoustic, which he has named “Trigger”, after Roy Rogers’ horse. Constant strumming (with a guitar pick) over the decades has worn a large sweeping hole into the guitar’s body near the sound hole (there is no pick-guard on the Martin N-20 since classical guitars are meant to be played fingerstyle instead of with flat-picks). Willie once commmented it was caused by a little too much Whiskey River. Its soundboard has been signed over the years by over a hundred of Nelson’s friends and associates, from fellow musicians to lawyers and football coaches. Nelson has often said that when the hole in Trigger’s body makes the guitar unplayable he will retire.”

Willie Nelson with Trigger, Musicians for freedom 209 hall of fame

Hits, excesses, and Farm Aid

“The Eighties saw a series of hit singles: “Midnight Rider” (1980; a cover of the Allman Brothers song, which Nelson recorded for The Electric Horseman soundtrack), “On the Road Again” (1982) from the movie Honeysuckle Rose and “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” (a duet with Julio Iglesias). There were also more popular albums, includingPancho & Lefty (1982, with Merle Haggard), WWII (1982, with Waylon Jennings) and Take it to the Limit (1983, with Waylon Jennings).

“In the mid-1980s, Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash formed a group called The Highwaymen. They achieved unexpectedly massive success, including platinum record sales and worldwide touring. Meanwhile, he became more and more involved in charity work, such as singing on the We are the World single in 1984 and establishing the Farm Aid concerts in 1985.

“In 1990, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) handed Nelson a bill for $16.7 million in back taxes and seized most of his assets to help pay the charges. He released The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? as a double album, with all profits going straight to the IRS. Many of his assets were auctioned and purchased by friends, who gave his possessions back to him or rented them at a nominal fee. He sued accounting firm Price Waterhouse, contending that they put him into tax shelters that were later disallowed.[6]The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.[7] His debts were paid by 1993.

“In 1996, Willie Nelson was featured on the Beach Boys’ now out-of-print album Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 singing a cover of their 1964 song “The Warmth of the Sun” with the Beach Boys themselves providing the harmonies and backing vocals.”

willie nelson with trigger, musicians for freedom hall of fame 2009

Activism

“In 2004, Nelson and his wife Annie became partners with Bob and Kelly King in the building of two Pacific Bio-diesel plants, one in Salem, Oregon, and the other at Carl’s Corner, Texas (the Texas plant was founded by Carl Cornelius, a longtime Nelson friend and the namesake for Carl’s Corner). In 2005, Nelson and several other business partners formed Willie Nelson Biodiesel[9] (“Bio-Willie”), a company that is marketing bio-diesel bio-fuel to truck stops. The fuel is made from vegetable oil (mainly soybean oil), and can be burned without modification in diesel engines.[10]

“Nelson is a co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) advisory board. He has worked with NORML for years for marijuana legalization and has produced commercials for NORML that have appeared on Pot TV programs. He has also recorded a number of radio commercials for the organization. In 2005, Nelson and his family hosted the first annual “Willie Nelson & NORML Benefit Golf Tournament,” which appeared on the cover of High Times magazine.

“On January 9, 2005, Nelson headlined an all-star concert at Austin Music Hall to benefit the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. Tsunami Relief Austin to Asia raised an estimated $120,000 for UNICEF and two other organizations.

“Nelson was a supporter of Kinky Friedman’s campaign in the 2006 Texas gubernatorial election. In 2005, he recorded a radio advertisement asking for support to put Friedman on the ballot as an independent candidate. Friedman promised Willie a job in Austin as the head of a new Texas Energy Commission due to Nelson’s support of bio-fuels. (Friedman was on the ballot but came in fourth with 12.43 percent, losing to Republican Rick Perry).”

“Nelson supported Dennis Kucinich’s campaign in the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries. He raised money, appeared at events, composed a song (“Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth?”), and contributing a quote for the front cover of Kucinich’s book for the campaign.

“In January 2008, Nelson filed suit against the Texas Democratic Party. Nelson alleges that the party violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution when it refused to allow co-plaintiff Dennis Kucinich to appear on the primary ballot because he had scratched out part of the loyalty oath on his application.[11]

“Nelson is an honorary trustee of the Dayton International Peace Museum.

 “Nelson is an advocate for horses and their treatment. He has been campaigning for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503/S. 311) with the Animal Welfare Institute. He is on the Board of Directors and has adopted a number of horses from Habitat for Horses.

“In March 2007, Ben & Jerry’s released a new flavor, “Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler Ice Cream”. Nelson’s proceeds will be donated to Farm Aid.The flavor has been re-releasedand is now available, after Ben & Jerry’s voluntary recall of 250,000 pints of the new flavor on March 19, 2007, as wheat was incorrectly excluded from the list of ingredients.

“Willie Nelson founded the Willie Nelson Peace Research Institute in April 2007. Nelson and his daughter Amy Nelson wrote a song called “A Peaceful Solution”, which they released into the public domain, and encouraged artists to render their own version of the song, which he would feature on the Institute’s web site.”

Nelson questions the official story of what happened on September 11. On February 4, 2008, Nelson appeared on Alex Jones’s radio show and talked about the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, stating his belief that the Twin Towers and WTC7 were imploded: “I saw one fall and it was just so symmetrical, I said wait a minute I just saw that last week at the casino in Las Vegas and you see these implosions all the time and the next one fell and I said hell there’s another one – and they’re trying to tell me that an airplane did it and I can’t go along with that.”[18]

Nelson released the song “Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other,” a song promoting the awareness and acceptance of homosexuality, in reference to gay cowboys, as a digital single through the iTunes Music Store on Valentine’s Day 2006, shortly after the release of the film Brokeback Mountain. The song was encouraged by Nelson’s tour manager and close friend David Anderson, who said “This song obviously has special meaning to me in more ways than one. I want people to know more than anything—gay, straight, whatever—just how cool Willie is and … his way of thinking, his tolerance, everything about him.”[19] Regarding the song, Nelson quoted “The song’s been in the closet for 20 years. The timing’s right for it to come out. I’m just opening the door.” Read more at Wikipedia.