Watch Willie Nelson Perform ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ With Richard Pryor ‘Playing’ Saxophone
The heartwarming footage aired on Pryor’s Place in 1984.
Other than the Wu-Tang Clan, few musical acts are more for the children than Willie Nelson. The father of two talented, professional musicians – Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson – the 90-year-old Willie’s legacy will live on not only through his children but through the efforts he’s made to make the world a better place.
Nelson co-founded Farm Aid with Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985. Over the past 38 years, and with the addition of fellow board members Dave Matthews and Margo Price, Farm Aid has supported family farmers so that there is a sustainable future for them and for the next generation who will tend to the land. Leading up to last weekend’s all-star concert at Deer Creek, Farm Aid has raised more than $70 million for family farmers while amplifying the Good Food Movement.
In another effort to support the next generation, Nelson also partnered with Live Nation to launch the “On The Road Again” program. Part of a major overhaul by the live music industry juggernaut that will also see clubs and similarly-sized venues operated by Live Nation dropping fees from merchandise sales, the On the Road Again program – named after Nelson’s signature song – will also provide a $1,500 stipend per show to all headliners and support acts for gas and travel.
“Touring is important to artists so whatever we can do to help other artists, I think we should do it,” Nelson stated. “This program will impact thousands of artists this year and help make touring a little bit easier.”
Nelson has long been backed by The Family, his band of supporting musicians that for many years featured his late older sister Bobbie Nelson on piano. Both Lukas and Micah regularly perform with the group alongside their father.
With such close ties to his family, it makes sense that Willie Nelson appeared on a children’s television program back in 1984. What might be more surprising is that the show Nelson guested on was hosted by comedian/actor Richard Pryor.
One of the all-time great stand-up comics, Pryor rose to fame in the late-1960s and early-1970s on the success of his exhilarating onstage act. Known for his raw and honest depictions of life, Pryor shared his worldview through a signature language style, one that often was not intended for younger audiences.
Pryor’s use of profanity and provocative language was integral to his standup style. It wasn’t simply the fact that he was using what could be considered offensive language, but it was how Pryor used words that made his brand of comedy and social commentary so brilliant.
While Pryor’s comedy was adult-oriented humor, he was also a father to several children – including actor Rain Pryor – and in 1984 he took a stab at hosting a children’s television show. Airing on Saturday mornings on CBS for one season, Pryor’s Place was hosted by Pryor with special guests appearing on each episode.
With puppets similar to Sesame Street and filmed on a similarly built set, Pryor’s Place was the frequently foul-mouthed comedian’s attempt to provide entertainment to younger audiences. Ray Parker Jr., who at the time was riding high on the Ghostbusters theme that he wrote for the popular 1984 film, wrote the Pryor’s Place theme and appeared in episodes as well.
Episode 10 of Pryor’s Place, titled “The Showoff,” featured guest stars John Ritter and Willie Nelson. Appearing as himself, Nelson can be seen performing on a street corner normally occupied by a recurring saxophone-playing character portrayed by Pryor called Chills.
At Nelson’s suggestion, Chills – who speaks with a Jamaican accent and plays a saxophone – accompanies the country legend on a performance of “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.” Nelson ends the scene by inviting Chills down to Austin, Texas to share a street corner there.
While Pryor holds a saxophone up to his mouth and does a valiant job acting as though he’s really playing, the sound being heard does not appear to be generated by the instrument in his hands. Watch the full Pryor’s Place episode guest starring Willie Nelson (his scene begins at 7:48) below:
Pryor again portrayed a saxophone player in the 1991 film Another You, however, in that instance, it was clear he was not actually playing the instrument:
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