How Willie Nelson Stopped An Alabama Parking Garage Police Shootout In The Late ’70s

Willie Nelson country music
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The one and only Willie Nelson…

Country music icon, marijuana enthusiast, living legend… the vault of incredible Willie Nelson stories is as deep as it as wide. I’d just love to sit down with Shotgun Willie for a while and hear him tell these stories face to face… they’re just insane.

We’ve heard about the joint at the White House, the 9-hour sex marathon, the $16 MILLIOIN dollar tax bill that he paid via Taco Bell commercial, but perhaps one of the most interesting stories about the famed country star comes from a show he was playing in Birmingham, Alabama in the late ’70s.

Willie and the boys were loading up the bus after a show at the Birmingham Coliseum when they found themselves in the middle of a gun fight in a six-story parking garage.

The Parking Lot Gun Fight

Nelson’s long-time stage manager/bus driver Randy “Poodie” Locke recalled the wild moment very well in the singer’s autobiography, Willie: An Autobiography, beginning on page 289:

“We all carried two or three guns and plenty of ammo back then. Half the band was already on the Tube, Mickey was off chasing the monkey someplace. All of a sudden we hear ‘Kaboom! Kaboom! It’s the sound of a .357 magnum going off in the parking garage.

The echoes sound like howitzer shells exploding. It’s kind of semi-dark, and this guy comes blowing through this parking deck and jumps in the Franks Brothers’ Suburban. Now here comes this bitch with a fucking pistol. ‘Kaboom!’ She’s chasing this motherfucker. It sounds like a fucking war.

People are piling out of the show and they start scattering. Here come the cops from every direction. They’re flying out of their cars, hitting the parking deck, spread-eagling the whole crowd… ‘On the deck, motherfuckers!’… because the cops don’t know who is shooting at who.

We cut the lights and slip around the back of the bus. All you can see are police headlights in a big semi-circle and hundreds of people laying flat on the ground.. all these cops are squatting down in the doorjambs, turning people over, frisking them, aiming guns at everybody, just waiting for the next shot to be fired.

Absolute chaos…

Willie Nelson: Peacemaker

And here comes Willie.

He walks off the bus wearing cutoffs and tennis shoes, and he’s got two huge Colt .45 revolvers stuck in his waist. The barrels are so long they stick out the bottom of his cutoffs.

Two shining motherfucking pistols in plain sight of a bunch of cops nervous as shit.

Willie just walks over and says, ‘What’s the trouble?’ Well he’s got some kind of aura to him that just cools everything out. The cops put up their guns, the people climb off the concrete, and pretty soon Willie is signing autographs.”

There ya go, just like nothing ever happened.

The mythical Willie Nelson ladies and gentleman.

And while that’s not how he got the nickname Shotgun Willie, ain’t nobody wanna mess with a legend like that.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock