How Willie Nelson’s ’90s Taco Bell Commercial Helped Him Pay Off His $16 Million Tax Bill

Willie Nelson country music
Taco Bell

February 2nd, 1993… Willie Nelson settled his tax debt of $16.7 million (reduced down from 32 million after asset seizures) with the IRS for a cool $9 million.

They showed up at his house in November of 1990 to collect take control of a number of his assets and properties across six different states (not Trigger though) and then Willie released The IRS Tapes: Who Will Buy My Memories? to try and make up some money to pay it off.

What a sense of humor, right? But then, he had another idea to help pay off the debt and avoid jail time…

So, let me introduce you to the Willie Nelson single you’ve never heard of:

“The Steak Burrito From Taco Bell From The Woman In The Rose Tattoo”

Kind of a long title…

In the early ’90s, Taco Bell was looking for somebody to advertise their brand new steak burrito supreme, and they ended up landing Willie Nelson to kick start their campaign.

Granted, Willie was in the midst of the aforementioned tax trouble and believe it or not, the money he received from the Taco Bell ad helped him pay off the bill in full.

But I mean, just listen to the songwriting in this jingle… it sounds better than half the stuff you hear on country music radio today.

Hell, I’m not even a huge Taco Bell fan, but if I saw Willie Nelson headlining a commercial for their new steak burrito, I’d probably be running people off the road while trying to get to the nearest Taco Bell.

The ’90s just hit different, man…

The commercial also led to this “Save Willie” bit from legendary comedian Bill Hicks.

“You do a commercial, you’re off the artistic roll call forever… and that goes for everyone EXCEPT Willie Nelson.”

And while you can definitely appreciate the “sellout mentality” behind the notion that artists shouldn’t be doing corny commercials, you can’t tell me that Willie wasn’t smoking all that weed and eating a ton of Taco Bell back in the day.

Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings’ 1996 Stuffed Crust Pizza Hut Ad

Advertising was really simple in the ’90s… get somebody famous. Your commercial is a steaming pile of corny horse manure? Doesn’t matter, we got somebody famous.

You have the classic John Wayne and R. Lee Ermey Coors Banquet commercial, Alan Jackson and Clint Black’s Miller Lite spot, Johnny Cash and Taco Bell, Dale Sr. for Sun Drop, George Strait’s Bud Light ads, Charlie Daniels with Skoal, Alan Jackson with Ford AND Miller Lite… the list of gold is endless.

And today, we’re taking it back to 1996 for a Pizza Hut spot with two country legends… Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.

“I gotta eat mine wrongways…”

Man, I miss the ’90s… and stuffed crust Pizza Hut.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock