Willie Nelson is on the road again, and all is right with the world. The American music icon is currently on an extensive run in the West Coast and Southeast, touring behind his latest Lost Highway release Willie Nelson & Friends: Stars & Guitars.

Willie Nelson
photo by John Croxton
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Midway through the tour Willie will marks a couple of milestones, including hitting the Big 7-0! To coincide with Willie's 70th birthday, Columbia/Legacy will release The Essential Willie Nelson, a career-spanning retrospective that covers his earliest recordings up through his recent celebrated releases on Island/DefJam, scheduled for release on March 11th. Willie's latest release, Willie Nelson & Friends: Stars & Guitars, is an 18-track live CD recorded at Nashville's legendary Ryman Auditorium. Artists appeared alongside Willie on the album include Sheryl Crow, Ryan Adams, Emmylou Harris, Keith Richards, Norah Jones and Jon Bon Jovi.

Since releasing his first single in 1957, Willie Nelson has been a true American musical hero. His breakthrough album, 1975's Red-Headed Stranger, contained his first smash hit, a remake of Roy Acuff's "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain." That opened the door for an unbroken track record of artistic success and high cultural impact. In 1978 Nelson teamed up with Waylon Jennings to record Waylon and Willie and the country anthem "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." In 1984 he threw a curve ball to his country fans by recording "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" with Latino pop star Julio Iglesias. In 1993, with more than 100 albums to his credit, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Willie has won eight Grammys, including a President's Merit Award, a Grammy Legend Award, and a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in the year 2000, and this year earned one Grammy award and four nominations.

Outside the recording studio, Willie has established himself as a champion of family farmers with his annual Farm Aid concerts, and for the past quarter-century his Fourth of July Picnics have served as a musical rite of passage in Texas. As an actor, Willie has co-starred in such films as Wag the Dog and The Electric Horseman, for which he recorded his signature song "On The Road Again." Today, Willie divides his time between the road and his beloved Pedernales recording studio/golf course in the Hill Country outside of Austin, Texas. Often asked when he plans to retire, he invariably replies with a smile, "All I do is play music and golf. Which one do you want me to give up?" Hopefully neither, as the veteran performer is showing no signs of slowing down.

Willie Nelson Tour Dates
Willie Nelson Photo Gallery: 02.10.03 | The Fillmore, San Francisco


[Published on: 2/18/03]

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