On This Date: Willie Nelson Released His Very First #1 Country Album, The Iconic ‘Red Headed Stranger,’ In 1975

Willie Nelson country music
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Willie Nelson has put out some incredible albums over the years.

And on this date in 1975, Willie released his eighteenth studio album Red Headed Stranger, which became his very first #1 country album, an all-time classic, and is often regarded as the best country album of all time.

Funny enough, Willie recorded most of the songs not long after he moved back to Austin from Nashville and signed with a new record label, Columbia Records. The executives at the label were actually hesitant to release the album in its entirety, because they thought it was a demo at first.

The whole thing was so simple in its production and sound that they thought it would be a flop, but since Willie had managed to negotiate creative control over his projects at Columbia, no further production was added.

It was a concept album, as well, which centered around the story of a fugitive on the run from the law after killing his wife and her lover.

Obviously, Willie was right about everything, and it became a massive #1 hit on the country albums chart, his signature record that defined the heigh of the country outlaw movement of the ’70’s, and ultimately, a classic collection of songs that are still beloved today by generations of music fans today.

And if it wasn’t for Willie’s good buddy Waylon Jennings, it’s likely that it never would’ve seen the light of day.

You can read about that amazing story here, but long story short, Waylon basically told the record label the album was perfect as is and to leave it alone or he would walk.

Of course, Red Headed Stranger included classics like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” which was released as a single in the lead-up to record release and became his very first #1 hit and one of my favorite songs of all-time. He also put out “Remember Me (When the Candle Lights Are Gleaming)” as a single.

Here’s to the one and only Willie Nelson, who just turned 90 years old last month and is still going almost as much as he was in 1975… go turn up a tune, or all 15 tracks like I’m going to, from this masterpiece today.

“Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”

“Remember Me (When the Candle Lights Are Gleaming)”

“Red Headed Stranger”


A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock