Willie Nelson’s legacy as an icon dies in New York
Posted On July 7, 2021
WILLIE NELSON’S legacy as a singer, songwriter and performer in New England and beyond has been in the spotlight ever since he was drafted in the National Hockey League by the New York Rangers in 1983, just a few months after graduating from Boston University.
Now 82, Nelson is the subject of an exhibit at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., which includes an extended version of his “Song and Dance” from the New Year’s Day ceremony at Yankee Stadium.
The exhibit features songs that have been performed at the White House, the United Nations, the World Trade Center and the Lincoln Memorial.
Nelson’s “Song of the Year” and “Song for the Day” from 1985 are featured.
“He’s not just the guy that started this thing, he’s the guy who kept it going,” said Eric Harker, curator of Americana, a new exhibition at the museum.
The White House and the United States Capitol, which were the epicenters of the Cold War and the war on terror, were transformed into “New York City, New York, New Jersey, New England,” with the iconic rock band “Pink Floyd” and the movie “Lincoln” in the audience.
Nelson’s “Lil’ Joe’s Rock and Roll” was a classic song that has been performed in the White Houses of the countrys most prominent stars, including Bob Hope, George McGovern and John Belushi.
And Nelson has remained one of the most popular performers in the world of American pop music, as he continues to tour the world and has sold millions of records.
He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.
The New York Times once called Nelson “the King of the Rock and Pop” but that is no longer the case, with the publication now calling him the most-popular American singer-songwriter.
He also remains one of America’s most popular pop-country stars.
Born on July 19, 1929, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of a doctor, Nelson began playing the drums as a young boy and, after graduating high school, played on a small-town band in Massachusetts.
After working as a drummer for a local band, he joined a band called the Folsom Street Band in Los Angeles, where he was known for his distinctive voice.
His first single, “Rock the World,” was released in 1984 and he began to write songs with his wife, the singer-bassist and singer-guitarist Julie Egan.
In 1989, he wrote and recorded his first song, “I’m Sorry,” which he later performed at a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden in New Jersey.
He played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1994, the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in 1997, and the Grammys in 1998.
Nellys “Song For the Day,” a popular song with country musicians, became a national hit.
It featured his voice, was a hit in many countries and, in 1997 in Los Angels, was the top song on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
In 1998, he and Julie recorded their second single, entitled “Let It Go,” which they performed on their nationally televised show, “Today’s Tv.”
He also recorded the hit “All About the Money,” which peaked at number two in the country charts.
In 2003, he recorded the title track from his first album, “All My Loving,” a hit that peaked at #1 on the Billboard Country Songs Chart.
In 2008, he signed with Warner Brothers and began touring the country with his band, the Folds.NELSON released his third album, My Way, in 2007, which featured hits like “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and a song called “I Want It All.”
In 2009, he became the first American to perform on Broadway.
In 2012, he starred in the Broadway musical “My Way.”
In 2013, he released his fourth album, which was named the best album of 2013 by Rolling Stone magazine.
In 2017, he performed at Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California.
He is also a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning rock band, The Folds and the Grammy-winning country band, Country Music Circle.
The show was nominated for three Grammy Awards: Album of the Decade, Best Country Album, Best Folk Album, and Best Pop/Rock Performance.
In 2018, the New Yorker named him one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the last 50 years.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 70 years, Julie Eagan; his sons, Brandon and Andrew, and grandchildren, Alex, Austin, and Alexia.