An Audience With Willie Nelson

The formidable outlaw countryman on songwriting, ageing, marijuana, martial arts and meeting Muhammad Ali...

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When did you become interested in the Martial Arts?
Angus Stewart, Glasgow
In Abbot, there wasn’t a lot to do but fight and throw rocks. I got into it from the comic books judo and ju-jitsu, Charles Atlas and Bruce Lee. I got into that pretty early. It’s something that I’ve been interested in and enjoy doing. Then later on I got into kung fu when I was in Nashville. For the last 20 years, I’ve been into taekwondo in Austin. It’s a lot of fun. It’s probably good for you. I’ve got a fifth degree black belt. I think a lot of it is honorary, more than anything else. I’m fairly familiar with the Korean mixed martial arts, Gongkwon Yusul and the various martial arts techniques. You know, talking of sports, I’m a good friend of Muhammad Ali. I think Kris Kristofferson introduced us. A year or so ago, he gave me a pair of his boxing gloves. I met him a few years back. I’ve always been a fan, all the way back to when he was Cassius Clay. I was really glad to get to meet him. He came on my bus one time. I’ve got a punch bag in the back of the bus and I got him back there punching my bag. I was thrilled to be able to know him.

What do you remember about working with The Highwaymen?
Bea Sheridan, Farnborough

Some of the best memories I’ve had in my life was working with the Highwaymen, Kris, John and Waylon. We went around the world a couple of times on tours, had a couple of albums together. I had a whole lot of fun working with those guys. Bonnie Carr, who did the travel for us when we were on I guess the last tour that we did around the world, we went to Singapore, a lot of different places, Brazil. We all took our families and everything with us when we travelled. Bonnie was telling me, she handled all the luggage and the ticket co-ordinations, and we had 278 pieces of luggage every day that she had to keep up with.


Do people mythologise your marijuana intake?
Toby Speller, Essex

It’s probably not exaggerated a lot. I enjoy smoking. But I use a Vaporizer these days. If you’re a singer, they’re better for your voice and your lungs. There’s no smoke and no heat on the Vaporizer. Even though marijuana smoke is not as dangerous as cigarette smoke, any time you put any kind of smoke in your lungs it takes a toll of some kind.

Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson


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