Willie Nelson may have turned 90 last month, but he remains one of the most active and prolific artists in country music. Just this week, numerous bits of important news crossed the wires about Willie, so let’s break it all down.
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Speaking of Willie’s 90th Birthday, for everyone that couldn’t be there celebrating on April 29th and 30th at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, portions of the two-day concert are being compiled, and will be released as Long Story Short: Willie Nelson 90. The limited theatrical release will premier in theaters on June 11th, with tickets on sale now at willienelson90experience.com.
There were so many performers and performances, it would be impossible to fit them all in, but some of the names that will be featured on the 2+ hour presentation include Willie Nelson himself, Keith Richards, George Strait, Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert, Billy Strings, Dave Matthews, Neil Young, The Lumineers, Snoop Dogg, Gary Clark Jr., Sheryl Crow, and Jack Johnson.
The concert was captured in 5.1 Surround Sound specifically for theatrical release as an immersive experience. Encore presentations will also take place on June 13th and 14th in select theaters.
This is beyond a five-part film series called Willie Nelson and Family that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The film spans Willie’s entire life and career. It currently does not have a release date.
Speaking of reliving old memories of Willie Nelson, to celebrate Willie Nelson turning 90, four of his iconic albums are being released on vinyl, including two that have never been issued on vinyl before, and two more that are returning to vinyl due to popular demand.
Willie’s 2002 collaborative album The Great Divide will be released on vinyl on June 23rd. Willie is joined by Lee Ann Womack, Alison Krauss, Bonnie Raitt, Bernie Taupin, and more on the album. That will be followed by a Teatro reissue on August 4th. The album was produced by Daniel Lanois, and was recorded live in a theater in Oxnard, California with Emmylou Harris collaborating with Willie on 11 of the 14 tracks. It was originally released in 1998.
Next will come the double album Milk Cow Blues on September 15th. This was Willie’s ode to the blues recorded with the Antone’s House Band in Austin along with Mickey Raphael. Other guests include B.B. King, Dr. John, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Susan Tedeschi. And finally on October 20th, Willie Nelson’s 1996 album Spirit will be re-released on vinyl. A stripped back album featuring the late Jody Payne on guitar and sister Bobbie on piano, along with Johnny Gimble on fiddle, it was one of the Willie’s most critically-acclaimed albums of the era.
All four of the vinyl reissues are now available for pre-order.
Last but not least, on October 31st, Willie Nelson will publish what will now be his tenth book called Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs. Written as a memoir, but with a breakdown of the origins and ideas behind 160 of his most iconic tracks, it was co-written with David Ritz and harmonica player Mickey Raphael.
The book also talks about Willie’s family, along with his friendships and working relationships with Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Dolly Parton and more. The book is being released by HarperCollins and is priced at $50—the price he sold his song “Family Bible” for. But it’s an expansive 384-page work. It is now available for pre-order.