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Willie's on The Road.... Again!
Willie's on The Road.... Again!

Ain't this Internet age something?

Like you, I was minding my own business when out of the blue the news hit me: Willie Nelson was seriously ill. He was so sick that he might even be on the verge of getting the Golden Handshake.

My daughter Rossana even called me from Charleston, S.C. and asked me if I had heard about it. I told her I had. We both promised to send a prayer to the Lord on behalf of the sweetest outlaw the world has ever known.

I did some checking on the Internet and it turned out to be fake news.

Somebody who claimed he was Willie's son, Eddie, posted a notice on the Internet that Nelson was critically ill. A magazine editor did some fact checking. Willie doesn't even have a son named Eddie.

Rolling Stone Magazine is paying tribute to Willie to celebrate his 85th birthday. Old age is a bummer but look at the alternative.

Nelson recently had to cancel several concerts because of respiratory problems. He was performing in Salt Lake Utah when the high altitude got to him and he stopped singing in the middle of 'Whiskey River.' Hey, when Willie can't sing 'Whiskey River,' you know something has gone haywire.

His doctors checked him out, gave him some medical tests, and concluded Willie was doing fine for his age. He recently completed a new album with the appropriate title 'Last Man Standing.' From what I hear he's back writing songs, singing, and toking.

I've interviewed Nelson on two occasions. Neither interview went that well but we had a lot of fun.

The last interview was at the Arizona Coliseum in Phoenix, AZ. I had played a rousing game of poker the night before and Willie's agent had gotten me three gold passes which allowed me to get into his dressing room back stage.

I invited my friends Dick Alexander and Dave Molina to accompany me to the concert which co-starred my old buddy Waylon Jennings.

We arrived at the Coliseum 15 minutes before the concert started. Molina had been drinking and suddenly discovered he wasn't wearing any socks. He couldn't show up at a Willie Nelson/Waylon Jennings concert sans socks. So as we were making our way through back allies trying to find a door at the rear of the Coliseum that would gain us permission to the dressing room, Molina spotted a Hispanic woman hanging her wash on a clothesline.

He hurried up to her, explained his problem, and she promptly removed a pair of her husband's socks from the line. Dave bowed to the sweet lady and gallantly kissed her hand.

Dick Alexander, an actor who strongly resembled Teddy Roosevelt, had appeared as a police officer in the comedy 'Raising Arizona.' He also was given the part of the operator of a bowling alley in 'Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure' and had appeared several times as a Catholic Priest in Michael Landon's hit television series, 'Little House On The Prairie.'

Thanks to the Acapulco Gold he had smoked at his ranch house home on North 26th Street earlier in the day, Alexander was feeling no pain. We found the rear entrance to the Coliseum, showed our gold passes to a bemused security guard, and barged into the dressing room.

It was packed with people. When Willie Nelson does a concert, his entourage follows. There were folks everywhere.

Dick was giggling and stumbling along, bumping into people and saying 'Excuse me...pardon me...oops...beg your pardon' as we fought our way to approach Willie. He spotted a keg of beer and decided to rest. He sat on it and his weight caused the keg to explode. Beer cascaded across the room.

Wearing his traditional Stars and Stripes bandana, Willie looked up, saw me, and said mildly, 'Hey, reporter, what kind of friends do you have anyhow?' He handed me a joint, I passed it around to Molina and Alexander.

Waylon Jennings was sitting against the wall giggling. I don't know what he was on, but it was more powerful than a six-pack of Coors Beer.

Willie looked at his singing partner and shook his head.

'Will somebody get some coffee into that SOB and tell him we got a concert to perform in about fifteen minutes?,' he said.

It was a swell concert. Willie covered the first part of it himself and then introduced Waylon. They sang 'Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys', 'Good Hearted Woman,' and other songs of the open road and purple sage.

Nope, Willie's fine. I hope he makes it back to Phoenix so I can see him again.

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