On This Date: Willie Nelson Statue Is Unveiled In Downtown Austin On 4/20… At 4:20PM

Willie nelson country music
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Willie Nelson may not have been born and raised in Austin, Texas, but he’s called the city home for a long time, and they sure treat him like family.

Willie pretty much loved music coming out of the womb, getting his first guitar at 6 years old, writing his first song at 7, and beginning to perform with a local band called Bohemian Polka at 9. By 13 he was earning money playing dance halls and honky tonks.

He decided pretty early that making and playing music was his life’s goal and took various odd jobs to support himself wherever the road lead, which included Texas, Oregon, and Missouri, until finally pulling the trigger and moving to Nashville in 1960.

At the time, the “Nashville Sound” was pretty much the only industry accepted style of country music. It had replaced the honky tonk music of the ’40s and ’50s and dominated the pop charts, leaving the more traditionally minded musicians high and dry and many fans longing for something with less glitter.

Willie Nelson’s first taste of success came in the early 1960s. He wrote some hits for other artists, signed a deal with Liberty Records, and secured a few top 10 and top 25 singles of his own. He stayed in Nashville for around 12 years and considered quitting music due to the lack of real success he found but that idea was kicked out of his head quickly when he heard about the hippie music scene building up in a weird little Texas city.

Willie moved to Austin in 1972 and that is where his story truly starts.

Finally allowed to play his own style of country music, he got the attention of fans and producers alike. He signed as the first country artist on Atlantic Records and in 1973 released the first of a stretch of albums that made him who he is, Shotgun Willie. 

While the project’s sales weren’t as great as they would have hoped, he didn’t waver and continued on this new, more fulfilling, path.

He moved to Columbia Records in 1975 and was given near complete creative control, leading to one of the greatest country albums of all-time, Red Headed Stranger. 

That was the release that turned Willie into a star.

His career was a rocket-ship from then on, not only releasing a continuous stream of top tier country music, but becoming an icon for a subculture of redneck hippies. He was instrumental in getting Austin City Limits up and running, starred in numerous films, wrote 9 books, and is incredibly outspoke on the need for Marijuana Legalization federally.

In fact, he is so well known for his love of weed that even the city of Austin wanted in on the fun.

In 2012, a crowd of around 2,000 people gathered downtown for the unveiling of a bronze Willie Nelson statue outside the Moody Theater. The statue was to commemorate all the great work Willie has done both musically and socially for the country, but specifically for Austin.

While they claimed it was just a coincidence, the unveiling took place on 4/20, at 4:20pm…

According to ABC, April 20 was chosen because Nelson was scheduled to perform at a tribute to Johnny Cash in Austin that night, not because of his affinity for marijuana.

“We didn’t know anything about it; it seems everyone else knew the story on this.”

However, once they realized that they had scheduled a Willie Nelson event on 4/20, they decided to embrace the serendipity and schedule the unveiling to take place at 4:20 p.m.

Willie was present, made some remarks, and then began playing some of his most iconic songs, including “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”, which I’m sure would also be described as a pure coincidence.

Willie Nelson, Austin, and Mary Jane… that’s one hell of a trio.

Spark one up and enjoy the day.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock