Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Happy Birthday, Willie
Texas Monthly has the most awesome cover pic of Willie Nelson for the May issue. The editors asked for Willie stories, and I actually have a few.
In the early 1950's, my parents were very good friends with another couple who owned a bar in West, Texas (the town, not the geographical locale). West is also known as the kolache capital of Texas, due to its large Czech population - who know kolaches!
The couple would book bands and musicians on the weekends, and one particular young man caught their fancy with his unique voice and style. He played their beer joint frequently. The downside was the young musician often got too deep in the suds, ending up in the drunk tank, and having hocked his guitar sometime during the night for some pocket money. They would pay his bail and get his guitar out of hock for him so he could return for another gig.
Little did they know this same trouble-maker with the terrific Texas style would someday be known 'round the globe as Willie Nelson.
In later years, my folks would never miss an opportunity to see Willie perform at Fort Worth's Panther Hall. I remember staying up late watching channel 11 to see if I could spot them in the crowd. Panther Hall seemed like a huge place to me back then; guess that's just typical of things you remember from your childhood - bigger than life.
Then, in 1974, I saw Willie in person in Austin at the Armadillo. We sat right up near the stage. It was a concert I'll never forget. Best way to hear Willie, in a small venue.
One other Willie story:
During his wild and woolly single days, Kman and his frat brothers would often catch local concerts. Once he and "ol' Hoot" were at a Willie concert. Hot evening and the beer was flowing. Kman and Hoot were backstage, courtesy of some other friend who could get them passes ( or maybe it was some chick they were flirting with, I forget). Anyway, it seems security was missing some bouncers and bodyguards and thinking Kman and Hoot (who are both big and healthy Texas boys)were part of Willie's entourage, jostled them to the front wings of the stage for crowd control and to protect Willie and band from overzealous fans.
As the concert was winding down, one of the security guys told Kman and Hoot to stay close to Willie until they could get him into his limo from the stage exit. Kman said some drunk cowboy pushed his way up to Willie and was making a pest out of himself. The security guy motioned to Kman, and he did what any good bodyguard is supposed to do, he decked the dude. Kapow!
Willie, though I am sure you have no memory or recollection of any of these "Willie Moments", you have surely been a part of our family through the years. Here's wishing you a very happy birthday, and thanks for the memories.