Willie Nelson was very attached to certain country music artists in the 1970s

Willie Nelson has been a country music icon for decades and his status in the industry remains undisputed. As one of the legends of the genre, Nelson has at times vehemently defended who can make country music and what it actually looks like.

Willie Nelson | Rick Kern / WireImage for Shock Ink

Willie Nelson is a legendary country music artist

Willie Nelson started recording music in the 1950s, when he was in his early twenties. He worked as a radio announcer and freelance musician, picking up all the gigs he could get. In 1960 he moved to Nashville, the country music capital of the world, but initially struggled to gain recognition there.

Nelson released his first album … And then I wrote in 1962 and his profile began to increase in the industry. In 1965, he joined the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, where he met another future country superstar, Waylon Jennings.

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, Nelson had only minor success, and he grew increasingly frustrated with the boxes he had been placed in. In the early 1970s, he and Jennings – along with other country artists – began recording what came to be known as “outlaw country” music, which challenged the conservative ideals of Nashville.

Musician Willie Nelson performs at Georgetown Austin Rally for Democracy

Willie Nelson | Brandon Bell / Getty Images

Willie Nelson resented pop singers making country music

Nelson’s rise to prominence as part of the outlaw country was chronicled in the 2021 Netflix docuseries It’s pop. “In the 1960s, the music coming out of Nashville started to look less and less like country music. He started to have orchestras and singers without southern accents, ”said journalist Shuja Haider. “In the 70s, you have pop artists like John Denver or Olivia Newton-John releasing country records. “

One person who was annoyed by the influx of pop artists into country music was Nelson himself. “We don’t want a bunch of big guys [and] rip artists from other parts of the world to come here and ruin it for the rest of the people, ”Nelson said honestly in a ’70s music video.

In 1976, Nelson and Jennings teamed up with Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser to form The Outlaws. Their album Wanted to! The outlaws became country music’s first platinum album, with over a million copies sold.

Actor / Songwriter Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson | Rick Kern / Getty Images for Shock Ink

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Willie Nelson is country music protector

While Nelson seemed to resent the newcomers to country music, he was protective of a genre of music close to his heart. Becoming a musician was for him the dream of a lifetime.

“Ever since I was a kid music was what I wanted to do,” Nelson told Parade in 2010. “I thought I could do it with my own talents. That’s what I wanted to prove.

“A lot of country music is sad,” he continued. “I think most of the artwork comes out of poverty and hard times. This applies to music. Three chords and the truth, that’s what a country song is. There is a lot of sorrow in the world.


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