• Chester B Simpson

Smoking weed with Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson opened the door, asked us if we would like a Pabst Blue Ribbon, and handed us each a beer.


Being a young photographer, I was always looking for people and places to photograph on the weekends. I read in the newspaper, that Willie Nelson, Donna Fargo, and Freddie Fender were going to be performing near San Jose, California at an outdoor concert in 1977.


I traveled in my car to San Jose with my friend Chris Balcomb. We arrived on a sunny day and were a bit parched, so I looked for the backstage area. Well, backstage was under the stage but was closed off by a wooden door. I knew I could always count on getting a free beer backstage, so I knocked on the door.


Willie Nelson opened the door, asked us if we would like a Pabst Blue Ribbon, and handed us each a beer. He asked me to close the door behind me because they were going to smoke a joint, so I did. After smoking a few joints, I needed to step outside to clear my head.


Donna Fargo was about ready to perform so I asked her if I could take her picture beside her tour bus. She posed for me and asked if I wanted to take pictures of her onstage performing. I was happy to be invited on stage to photograph her, Freddie Fender, and then Willie Nelson.


I was so stoned from Willie's weed, that it was a bit hard to concentrate on taking pictures while wanting to watch and just listen to the songs. After the show, we retreated to the backstage area and smoked some more. Everyone was nice and gracious to some stranger like me coming into their world. Back then, it was either country music or rock-n-toll and the two did not mix much.


Willie was always a wonderful person to watch, seeing how he would treat everyone the same and he always seems to be such a happy person.


Check out photographs from this story: Willie Nelson Gallery

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