Music

Willie Nelson Celebrates 90th Birthday with Neil Young, Snoop Dogg,


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Willie Nelson’s 90th birthday celebration gathered an eclectic group of well-wishers including Neil Young, Snoop Dogg, and The Chicks for the first of two performances at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl on Saturday. Watch fan-captured footage from the event below.

“Long Story Short: Willie Nelson 90, A Star-Studded Concert Celebrating Willie’s 90th Birthday” kicked off with perhaps the roster’s youngest performer, Billy Strings, who played two Shotgun Willie staples, “Whiskey River” and “Stay a Little Longer.” He later returned to back Bob Weir on a rendition of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” from Nelson’s classic 1975 LP, Red Headed Stranger, which received further looks from the likes of Norah Jones, Beck, and Tyler Childers.

Country as a genre was well represented between The Chicks, Margo Price, Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert, and more, but the set also spanned Nelson’s many musical phases and stages with covers from Tom Jones, Leon Bridges, Edie Brickell, and Ziggy Marley. Kris Kristofferson, Nelson’s one-time bandmate as part of The Highwaymen supergroup, appeared alongside Rosanne Cash, daughter of fellow Highwaymen member Johnny Cash, to duet on “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again).”

Just one week after delivering his first live performance in four years, Neil Young took the stage again for another Buffalo Springfield reunion with Stephen Stills, rattling off “For What It’s Worth” and “Long May You Run” before inviting up the new nonagenarian to play the 1985 Nelson-Young collaboration, “Are There Any More Real Cowboys?” The country legend, who remained seated and strumming on Trigger, took over as host and brought out George Strait to play a bit of wish fulfillment with his guest’s 2019 single, “Sing One With Willie.” The pair then revived Nelson’s iconic duet with the late Merle Haggard, “Pancho and Lefty.”

For one of the night’s final birthday wishes, Nelson called for Snoop Dogg to “come out here and help me roll one up.” The two sat together to perform 2012’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” featuring some country crooning from both, plus Snoop’s dubbing of Nelson’s long-time harmonica player Mickey Raphael as “Slick Mick.”

Nelson addressed the crowd by joking, “I want to thank all the artists who came out tonight to help celebrate whatever it is we’re celebrating,” and the audience was sure to clear up the confusion by singing back “Happy Birthday.” He wrapped Night 1 of “Willie Nelson 90” with a group rendition of his usual closer, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” and a cover of Mac Davis’ “It’s Hard to Be Humble.”

Owen Wilson, Helen Mirren, Ethan Hawke, and Jennifer Garner served as rotating emcees throughout the concert, while the house band was led by Don Was and also featured Nelson’s sons, Lukas and Micah. The second night of birthday celebrations is set to feature Dave Matthews, Kacey Musgraves, Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris, and more.

Nelson’s shown no signs of slowing down as he nears his seventh decade as an outlaw country legend. This summer, he’s set to embark on the Outlaw Music Festival Tour (tickets are available here).

Setlist:
Billy Strings – Whiskey River (Johnny Bush)
Billy Strings – Stay a Little Longer (Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys)
Charley Crockett – The Party’s Over
Micah Nelson and Daniel Lanois – The Ghost
Lyle Lovett – Hello Walls
Edie Brickell and Charlie Sexton – Remember Me (When the Candlelights Are Gleaming) (Lulu Belle & Scotty)
Margo Price and Nathaniel Rateliff – Take Back the Weed (Willie Nelson and Leon Russell)
Beck – Hands on the Wheel (Will Callery)
Norah Jones – Down Yonder (L. Wolfe Gilbert)
Warren Haynes – Midnight Rider (The Allman Brothers Band)
Roseanne Cash and Kris Kristofferson – Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)
Lukas Nelson – Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground
Leon Bridges and Gary Clark Jr. – Night Life
Gary Clark Jr. – Texas Flood (Larry Davis)
Jack Johnson – Willie Got Me Stoned and Took All My Money
Tyler Childers – Healing Hands of Time
Tyler Childers – Time of the Preacher
Ziggy Marley – Still Is Still Moving to Me
Tom Jones – Opportunity to Cry
Jamey Johnson – Live Forever
Bob Weir – Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain (Elton Britt and The Skytoppers)
The Chicks – Bloody Mary Morning
The Lumineers – A Song for You (Leon Russell)
Sturgill Simpson – I’d Have To Be Crazy
Miranda Lambert – Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys (Ed Bruce)
Chris Stapleton – The Last Thing I Needed the First Thing This Morning (Gary P. Nunn)
Chris Stapleton – You Were Always on My Mind (Gwen McCrae)
Neil Young and Stephen Stills – Long May You Run (The Stills–Young Band)
Neil Young and Stephen Stills – For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield)
Willie Nelson and Neil Young with Stephen Stills – Are There Any More Real Cowboys?
Willie Nelson with George Strait – Sing One With Willie (George Strait)
Willie Nelson with George Strait – Pancho & Lefty (Townes van Zandt)
Willie Nelson with Snoop Dogg – Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die
Willie Nelson – On the Road Again
Willie Nelson – Will the Circle Be Unbroken? / I’ll Fly Away
Willie Nelson – It’s Hard to Be Humble (Mac Davis)

Photo Gallery:

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