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Legendary Willie Nelson to Play Summit Arena

Legendary Willie Nelson to Play Summit Arena in Hot Springs
On Sunday, February 21; Tickets Go on Sale January 16

HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — American music legend and cultural icon Willie Nelson will play the Summit Arena in Hot Springs on Sunday, February 21, at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for the show will go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, January 16. There will be three price levels for the show: $55; $40; and $35.

Tickets will be available at all Ticketmaster outlets (FYE Records in Hot Springs Mall), and may be charged by phone at 1-800-745-3000. The tickets also will be available on the Ticketmaster website, www.ticketmaster.com.

Nelson is widely recognized as an American icon. His distinctive music and other social and political activities sometimes take a back seat to his pop-culture public image, marked by his red hair, often divided into two long braids partially concealed under a bandana. He has been active in social and political causes ranging from tax protests to support for a Democratic effort in the mid-2000s to bust up a Republican gerrymandering attempt in Texas.

No stranger to controversy, he released the Tex-Mex style "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other," a song about gay cowboys, as a digital single through the iTunes Music Store on Valentine's Day 2006, shortly after the release of the film “Brokeback Mountain” (which also featured Nelson on the soundtrack).

In February 2009 Nelson teamed up with Asleep at the Wheel to release an album entitled “Willie and the Wheel” on the Bismeaux Records label. This is a western swing album with covers of Bob Wills, Milton Brown, Cliff Bruner and others.

In March 2009 Nelson released his latest album entitled “Naked Willie.” The album include remixes of recordings from 1966-1970, stripped-down without orchestration or background vocals.

Nelson's touring and recording group is a collection of a number of longstanding members, including his sister, Bobbie Nelson, longtime drummer Paul English, harmonica player Mickey Raphael, Bee Spears, Billy English (Paul's younger brother), and Jody Payne. Willie tours North America in his bio-diesel (aka "Bio-Willie" - Willie Nelson Bio-diesel) bus, the "Honeysuckle Rose IV."

Nelson's principal guitar is a Martin N-20 nylon-string acoustic, which he has named "Trigger", after Roy Rogers' horse. Constant strumming (with a guitar pick) over the decades has worn a large sweeping hole into the guitar's body near the sound hole (there is no pick-guard on the Martin N-20 since classical guitars are meant to be played finger style instead of with flat-picks). Nelson once commented it was caused by a little too much Whiskey River. Its soundboard has been signed over the years by over a hundred of Nelson's friends and associates, from fellow musicians to lawyers and football coaches. Nelson has often said that when the hole in Trigger's body makes the guitar unplayable he will retire.

Willie Hugh Nelson was born April 30, 1933, and reached his greatest fame during the outlaw country movement of the 1970s, but remains musically and culturally relevant well into the 21st Century.

Nelson was raised in Abbott, Texas, the son of Myrle Marie (née Greenhaw) and Ira Doyle Nelson, who was a mechanic and pool hall owner. His grandparents, William Alfred Nelson and Nancy Elizabeth Smothers, gave him mail-order music lessons starting at age 6. He wrote his first song when he was 7 and was playing in a local band at age 9. Willie played the guitar, while his sister Bobbie played the piano. He met Bud Fletcher, a fiddler, and two siblings joined his band, Bohemian Fiddlers, while Nelson was in high school.

Nelson moved to Nashville in 1960, but was unable to land a record label contract. He did, however, receive a publishing contract at Pamper Music. After Ray Price recorded Nelson's "Night Life" (reputedly the most covered country song of all time), Nelson joined Price's touring band as a bass player. While playing with Ray Price and the Cherokee Cowboys, many of Nelson's songs became hits for some of country and pop music's biggest stars of the time. These songs include "Funny How Time Slips Away" (Billy Walker), "Hello Walls" (Faron Young), "Pretty Paper" (Roy Orbison) and most famously, "Crazy" (Patsy Cline).

In 1965, Nelson moved to RCA Victor Records and joined the Grand Ole Opry. He released a string of standard, mid-1960s Nashville Sound-inspired country albums, mostly produced by Chet Atkins. He had a number of mid-level chart hits throughout the remainder of the 1960s and into the early 1970s, before retiring and moving to Austin, Texas. While in Austin, with its burgeoning "hippie" music scene (see Armadillo World Headquarters), Nelson decided to return to music. His popularity in Austin soared, as he played his own brand of country music marked by rock and roll, jazz, western swing, and folk influences.

In 1974 Nelson moved to Columbia Records, where he was given complete creative control over his work. The result was the critically acclaimed, massively popular concept album, “Red Headed Stranger.” It included a popular cover of "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" (written by Fred Rose in 1945), which became Nelson's first No. 1 hit as a singer.

Along with Nelson, Waylon Jennings was also achieving success in country music in the early 1970s, and the pair were soon combined into a genre called outlaw country ("outlaw" because it did not conform to Nashville standards). Nelson's outlaw image was cemented with the release of the album “Wanted! The Outlaws” (1976, with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser), country music's first platinum album.

In 1978, Nelson released two more platinum albums, “Waylon and Willie,” (a collaboration with Jennings that included "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," which was written and originally recorded as a hit single by Ed Bruce a couple of years earlier), and “Stardust,” an unusual album of popular standards. It was produced by Booker T. Jones. Though most observers predicted that “Stardust” would ruin his career, it ended up being one of his most successful recordings.

Nelson began acting, appearing in “The Electric Horseman “(1979), “Honeysuckle Rose” (1980), “Thief” (1981), and “Barbarosa” (1982). Also in 1982 he played "Red Loon" in “Coming Out of the Ice” with John Savage. In 1984 he starred in the movie “Songwriter” with Kris Kristofferson guest starring. He then had the lead role in “Red Headed Stranger” (1986, with Morgan Fairchild), “Wag the Dog.”

In the mid-1980s, Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash formed a group called The Highwaymen. They achieved unexpectedly massive success, including platinum record sales and worldwide touring. Meanwhile, he became more and more involved in charity work, such as singing on the “We Are the World” single in 1984 and establishing the Farm Aid concerts in 1985.

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