“Aren’t there any more real cowboys?” Neil Young sang at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday night. It was a rare night when he wasn’t the main act, and at age 77, he wasn’t even close to being the oldest artist on the bill.
Willie Nelson slowly walked onto the stage on his 90th birthday, wearing a cowboy hat and a red-white-and-blue guitar strap. This got the crowd of more than 17,000 people on their feet. Nelson sat down in a chair—one of the few concessions he’s made to his age on stage—and sang the rest of “Are There Any More Real Cowboys?” with Young in 1985.
“I want to thank all the artists who came out tonight to help celebrate whatever it is we’re celebrating,” Nelson said, acting old to get a laugh.
Willie Nelson 90th Birthday
The moment they happened three hours into the first of two nights of tributes to the country great at an open-air amphitheater in Los Angeles, where stars from many different generations sang his songs.
Owen Wilson, one of the night’s hosts, Helen Mirren, Ethan Hawke, and Jennifer Garner, said, “When I was a kid growing up in Texas, it seemed like nothing was bigger than Willie Nelson.” “And when I look out at the Hollywood Bowl tonight, I still feel like Willie Nelson is the most important thing.”
According to Ap News, After Young, Nelson brought out George Strait, a country superstar from the next generation, for a self-referential duet called “Sing One With Willie.” Strait then sang the part that Merle Haggard used to play in the Willie classic “Pancho and Lefty,” which has been a favorite for years.
Nelson then yelled, “Come out and roll one with me, Snoop!” The rapper Snoop Dogg strutted out and sat next to Nelson as they started to play their song “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” Each seemed to forget the words sometimes, which seemed to fit. The two friends looked like they couldn’t care less.
“Someone make some noise for Mr. Willie Nelson, the legend!” During the song, Snoop yelled. One of the night’s themes was that Willie brings people together, which was shown by the line of partners.
“All of a sudden, it didn’t matter if you were a hillbilly or a hippie, everyone was a Willie Nelson fan,” Wilson said of Nelson’s late-blooming rise to fame as a singer when he left Nashville, Tennessee, and went back to his home state of Texas in the 1970s. “The Dalai Lama is also a fan of Willie Nelson. It’s right.”
The fact that people of all ages were in the crowd showed the point. There were cowboy hats on the stands, and hippies were dancing in the hallways as weed smoke filled the air.
Miranda Lambert’s version of “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” Nelson’s 1978 hit with Waylon Jennings, was upbeat and fun to sing along to. The Chicks played “Bloody Mary Morning” by Willie and his Family Band in 1970 at the same breakneck speed that Willie and his Family Band played it live when they were at the top of their game.
Nelson has outlived almost every member of the band that toured and recorded with him for many years. Bobbie Nelson, his little sister, and a pianist, died last year. Norah Jones paid her her own tribute by playing “Down Yonder,” a saloon-style solo song by the younger Nelson from Willie Nelson’s classic 1975 record “Red Headed Stranger.”
Many of the women who played on stage played loud rock songs, but most of the guys played quiet and sad songs. Chris Stapleton kept his guitar close by as he sang “Always on My Mind,” Willie Nelson’s biggest solo hit of the 1980s. The song was soft and thoughtful. Nelson’s son Lukas sang “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” by himself with an acoustic guitar. His voice was a dead ringer for his dad’s.
Another member of the Family Band who is still alive is harp player Mickey Raphael. He was part of the house band for the weekend, which was led by Don Was and backed up almost everyone. Nelson has also oYou also check out Jennifer Lopez Celebrates Twins Max And Emme& 15th Birthday With A Video That Includes Ben Affleck.utlived most of the people he worked with in the past. But an important one, his Highwaymen bandmate Kris Kristofferson, who is 86 years old, made it to the stage to join Johnny Cash’s daughter Rosanne Cash.
Rosanne Cash was singing “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)” by Willie Nelson when the song’s author, Kris Kristofferson, came out and sang the verses with her. Another theme of the night was the variety of Nelson’s songs. “He blends and bends genres,” Mirren said from the stage. “His timing and categories are all his own.”
Sheryl Crow tweeted that Happy Birthday Willie Nelson. You can see below:
I’m on my way to LA to sing with – and for – my favorite duet partner ever and one of the greatest artists/people of all time. I love you @WillieNelson and happy birthday! 🎉
…and yes, my babies were raised on Willie Nelson! pic.twitter.com/40yvPdkcvS
— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) April 29, 2023
Nelson’s love of the blues was shown in “Night Life” by Leon Bridges and “Funny How Time Slips Away” by Norah Jones. Both songs came out in 1961, when Nelson was best known for writing hits for other artists. Ziggy Marley sang “Still Is Still Moving to Me,” which Nelson recorded in 1993 and later sang with Toots and the Maytals during one of his rare dips into reggae. During the song, Marley said “Wee-lay!” in his Jamaican accent.
There will be a wide range of bands on Sunday night’s show, including Dave Matthews, Sheryl Crow, and Emmylou Harris. Young first went on stage with Stephen Stills, who had worked with him before. The two played a pumped-up version of “For What It’s Worth,” a classic hit they both had with Buffalo Springfield in 1966. They took turns playing guitar riffs during the song.
Nelson invited all of the night’s performers to join him on stage for the Carter Family’s 1935 song “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” This song has been a favorite of Nelson’s for a long time and is the traditional way for country music to end. Hawke took the mic and began to thank everyone for coming, so it was clear that this was the end. Take a look at the Josh Allen And His Girlfriend Brittany Williams Celebrate Her Birthday Without Her Boyfr!end
But the 90-year-old man wasn’t ready to stop. He broke into Mac Davis’s 2019 song “It’s Hard to Be Humble,” which Nelson and his boys had recorded. It was an odd choice for the last song, but the chorus was the right funny ending for a man who had been showered with love all night: “To know me is to love me,” he said. “I must be a great man.” Oh, Lord, being humble is hard. I’m doing the best I can, though.”