Country great Willie Nelson returns to Silver Springs on Saturday

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Country great Willie Nelson returns to Silver Springs on Saturday

Posted on: January 30th, 2014 by tommyj

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Nelson, who marked his 80th birthday last year, is the first musical act at Silver Springs since it became a state park. Jazz singer Sasha Dobson will open the show at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1.

"I’m there," wrote an elated Melissa Stein Davis in a recent Facebook post.

This will be Nelson’s fifth visit to Silver Springs, which came under state’s control in October, since 1997.

Add in last year’s concert at Ocala’s Circle Square Cultural Center, and it’s clear he knows Marion County well.

"His musical style crosses a lot of genres," said Bryan Fogelman, new executive director of Silver Springs. "He has strong appeal to (fans in their) 20s to 70s."

Nelson typically ranks among the Top 10 hardest-working performers, with an annual tour itinerary of nearly 150 stops — including Sunday’s performance at the Grammy Awards, where he joined old buds Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard, as well as Blake Shelton, for a medley of "Highwayman," "Okie From Muskogee" and the 1978 Grammy-winning "Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys."

Nelson is a one-time pig farmer whose first published song was "Family Bible," according to Rolling Stone magazine and the Biography Channel. He was paid $50.

His 60-year-plus career has accumulated many such stats, facts and lesser-known tidbits. So in celebration of Nelson’s return to Silver Springs, here is a list of Nelson nuggets:

Trigger: Yes, this was the name of Roy Rogers’ horse. It’s also what Nelson eventually named his Martin N-20 classical guitar that he bought sight-unseen in 1969 for $750. He named it after Rogers’ horse, and he’s still playing it.

"Trigger’s like me," Nelson told the Texas Monthly magazine in 2012. "Old and beat up."

The guitar is one of the few possessions saved from a fire at his Nashville home in 1970 — and from the Internal Revenue Service 20 years later when agents came after him for unpaid taxes.

"Willie," Texas Monthly noted, "became the guitarist he is by playing this instrument, which he has worn and shaped with his own hands, working his very personality into the wood until it sounds like no other guitar on earth."

The second hole in Trigger’s face, the one that looks like a gash just under the strings — is the result of Nelson’s aggressive style and using a pick, according to various accounts.

Trigger is carefully conditioned at least twice a year, according to Texas Monthly. And there are some who say the extra hole actually makes the guitar sound better.

Alternative fuels: One of America’s oldest country hippies, Nelson also is ever green.

In 2004, he got involved in producing biofuels made from soybean and other vegetable oils for use in modern diesel engines. The fuel is sold as BioWillie.

Accolades: Since 1975, Nelson has received seven Grammy Awards, including 1980’s Best Country Song "On the Road Again" and 1982’s Best Country Vocal for a Male for "Always on My Mind." Nelson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2002.

Prolific songwriter: Before he hit big as a performer, Nelson penned pop and country songs for many artists; among them "Night Life" for Rusty Draper, "Funny How Time Slips Away" for Jimmy Elledge and Johnny Tillotson, "Hello Walls" for Faron Young, "Wake Me When It’s Over" for Andy Williams, "Pretty Paper" for Roy Orbison and — one of his most-famous — "Crazy" for Patsy Cline.

Popular in the movies: According to the Internet Movie DataBase, Nelson’s music has been featured in 185 movies, television shows and video games going back to 1972. also notes he has 39 credits as an actor. He also appeared in 2008’s satirical TV special "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All"; he performed in an offbeat skit called "Little Dealer Boy."

Extra cool: In 2007, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream introduced Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler, described as a peach ice cream with pieces of cinnamon-sugar shortbread.

According to, a portion of the proceeds go to Farm Aid, which Nelson started in 1985 with Neil Young and John Mellencamp.

An American Treasure: A single strand of Nelson’s hair encased in glass owned by a man in Austin, Texas, was featured on an episode of National Geographic Channel’s "America’s Lost Treasures."

A special day: In 1975, the Texas Senate declared July 4 as Willie Nelson Day for his hosting an annual Independence Day picnic featuring young and old rock and country musicians, according to Rolling Stone.

He knows: Rolling Stone, in a profile of the rising Nelson in 1978, said, "Seemingly, everything he has done has been wrong. His vocal phrasing is off the beat, the songs he writes are unconventional, his albums are unpredictable, his guitar playing is a startling mixture of Charlie Christian and Mexican blues picking."

Yet it works, added the profile.

"Viewed in retrospect, his body of songs is remarkable, a unified world of transgression and redemption, human suffering and compassion and joy, all told by an anonymous Everyman. ‘Willie understands,’ is the most-heard quote from his fans."

Collaborations: Nelson has recorded with artists from nearly, if not all, genres. Notable collaborations include jazz/classical trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, contemporary honky-tonker Toby Keith, pop songstress Norah Jones, the late R&B/soul great Ray Charles, Latin heartthrob Julio Iglesias, pop artist Sinéad O’Connor, folk-rock legend Bob Dylan and rapper Snoop Dogg (now Snoop Lion, who recorded "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" with Nelson, Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson).

Contact Rick Allen at or 867-4154.

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