Today we’re met with the sad news that actor Dennis Hopper has died of cancer. As a star in films like Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now and others, and as a long time friend of Willie Nelson, Dennis could could be seen as an honorary country music Outlaw so to speak. Especially since he was right there when Willie, Kris, and even Waylon occasionally took their country music stardom to the silver screen.
Dennis was a part-time resident of the small northern New Mexico town of Taos. Taos is about as close as you will find to a wild west town these days, and some of the Easy Rider film was shot there and in the surrounding areas. Back in the mid 70’s it was a hangout for country music types and Hollywood misfits like Hopper. It was also the scene of one of the most crazy country music stories I’ve ever seen told that included Dennis, Willie Nelson, and of all people, golf pro Larry Trader. Check it out, told by Dennis in the Willie Nelson Autobiography:
“I hadn’t got a clue how Willie knew I was in jail in Taos. At the time I couldn’t imagine how Willie Nelson even knew who I was.
“In Taos I had gotten real drunk and proceeded to win a lot of acid in a poker game, so I swallowed the acid and saw weird dangerous shit going on, and I pulled my pistol out of my boot and shot up the plaza. I was ranting and raving in the jail, people were out to get me, man, and here came the sheriff saying Willie Nelson had come and paid my bill and was waiting outside. I was free to go with him.
“I freaked fucking out. Willie Nelson? Come on, man, who do you think you’re kidding? You’re gonna lure me out and yell jailbreak and blow my ass away! But I thought, hey, be cool, you are after all hallucinating all this. So I walked out of jail and got into Willie’s Mercedes with him and his wife Connie and his golf pro Larry Trader. We drove across the desert towards Las Vegas.
“Willie and Trader and I nearly drove Connie crazy with our laughing and shouting. Connie is an angel, but we were too much. At one point Connie said, “I’m going to stop the car. Either you guys get out, or I’ll get out. Who do you think has the best chance of hitching a ride in the middle of the desert?””