Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic

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Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic
WillieNelson4thofJulyPicniclogo.jpg
Genre music festival
Date(s) around July 4th
Frequency Annually
Location(s) Variable
Years active 1973 - present
Inaugurated July 4, 1973
Most recent July 4, 2012 (Austin, Texas)
Website
williespicnic.com

Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic is an annual concert hosted by country music singer Willie Nelson. Nelson was inspired to create the annual concert after his participation in the 1972 Dripping Springs Reunion, that was hosted at Hurlbut Ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas. As part of the lineup, Nelson performed on the third day. The event failed to meet the expected attendance due to the concert being poorly promoted.

Interested in the concept, Nelson decided to host the first annual Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic in the same place, as it was already prepared to host a concert. The success of the event led to other concerts. During the late 1970s, the bad reputation of the concert for recurrent problems with safety of the audience made it difficult to find venues. During the 1980s the security improved, and the event recovered the trust of the potential venues.

History[edit]

Dripping Springs Reunion[edit]

(L-R) Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings at Dripping Springs reunion

Willie Nelson was inspired to start a yearly festival by the 1972 Dripping Springs Reunion, where he was a part of the lineup. In 1971, four music promoters from Dallas, Texas, decided to create a massive music festival for country music audiences. Edward Allen, Michael McFarland, Don Snyder and Peter Smith, chose the Hurlbut Ranch, owned by James Hurlbut in Dripping Springs, Texas to be the place for the festival. After working on the grounds for months to prepare the site, the festival was set to last three days, between March 17-19, 1972. The lineup included Earl Scruggs, Hank Snow, Sonny James, Tom T. Hall, Tex Ritter, Roy Acuff, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. Due to the lack of funds, the event was poorly promoted. The expected total attendance was 180,000 to 225,000 for the three days, but it failed to reach 40,000. Security was provided by 123 men on foot, 40 perimeter horse riders, highway patrolmen and two helicopters.[1] According to Nelson's biographer Joe Nick Patoski, the concert "helped spark the rise of progressive country music and recognition of Austin as a music hub".[1]

The picnic[edit]

In 1974, Willie Nelson's first 4th of July picnic took place in the same ranch. Nelson selected the place because it was already prepared to hold a concert. The event attracted an estimated attendance of 40,000, and became an annual festival.[1] Before the concert, the Texas Senate Resolution 687 proclaimed July 4, 1975 as "Willie Nelson Day".[2][3] The organization provided only few portable toilets, while trash was left around the concert site and the town. The event was qualified as "moral pollution" by the local residents.[2] For the bad organization of the concert, Nelson was fined US$1,000 for violating the Texas Mass Gatherings Act.[4] During the late 1970s bad reputation of the concert often led to problems to find a venue. In 1976, the planned three-day concert had an estimate attendance of 80,000, the largest in the history of the picnic. The concert ended on July 5 after the rain shorted the PA system. An attendant drowned while four were stabbed. There were 140 arrests, four kidnappings and three reported rapes. Nelson was sued by the ranch owner, the ambulance service and two attendants.[2]

During the 1980s the security was reinforced in the picnics, improving the reputation of the event.[5] The outdoors were fenced and the incidents lowered. During the 1990s the picnic was often held in Luckenback, Texas, while in the 2000s the recurrent location was Billy Bob's Texas, at the Fort Worth Stockyards[2]

List of concerts[edit]

Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic has been hosted on the following occasions:[5]

Picnic
City
Venue
Lineup Included
Notes
1973
Dripping Springs, Texas
Hurlbut Ranch
Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Doug Sahm and Tom T. Hall
First picnic
1974
College Station, Texas
Texas World Speedway
Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Townes Van Zandt and Kinky Friedman
The festival was held on 4-6 July
1975
Liberty Hill, Texas
-
Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush, Rita Coolidge and the Pointer Sisters
Nelson was fined with 1,000 for violating the Texas Mass Gatherings Act
1976
Gonzales, Texas
-
Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, George Jones and B.W. Stevenson
The concert was held on July 3-5. The attendance rounded 80,000. A person drowned while four were stabbed. There were 140 arrests, four kidnaps and three reported rapes
1977
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa Fairgrounds Speedway
Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jerry Jeff Walker
The concert was held on July 4th
1978
Kansas City, Missouri
Arrowhead Stadium
Willie Nelson, Grateful Dead
-
1979
Austin, Texas
Pedernales Country Club
Willie Nelson, Ernest Tubb and Johnny Paycheck
-
1980
Austin, Texas
Pedernales Country Club
Willie Nelson, Ray Price and Faron Young
-
1981
-
-
-
-
1982
-
-
-
-
1983
Atlanta, Georgia [Hampton]
Atlanta International Raceway
Willie Nelson, Waylon & Jessie, Linda Rondstadt, David Allan Coe and Stray Cats
30,000 people, 99 degrees
1984
Austin, Texas
Southpark Meadows
Willie Nelson, Johnny Rodriguez, Moe Bandy and Joe Ely
-
1985
Austin, Texas
Southpark Meadows
Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Hank Snow and June Carter Cash
-
1986
-
-
-
The concert coincided with Farm Aid II
1987
Hillsboro, Texas
Carl's Corner
Willie Nelson, Bruce Hornsby, Jackie King and Roger Miller
-
1988
-
-
-
-
1989
-
-
-
-
1990
Austin, Texas
Zilker Park
The Highwaymen, Shelby Lynne and Little Joe
-
1991
-
-
-
-
1992
-
-
-
-
1993
-
-
-
-
1994
-
-
-
-
1995
Luckenbach, Texas
-
Willie Nelson, Robert Earl Keen and T. Bingo
-
1996
Luckenbach, Texas
-
Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Souvenirs, Supersuckers, Billy Joe Shaver
-
1997
Luckenbach, Texas
-
Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Joe Ely
-
1998
Luckenbach, Texas
-
Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Asleep at the Wheel, Derek O'Brien[disambiguation needed] and Toni Price
-
1999
Luckenbach, Texas
-
Willie Nelson, Larry Gatlin and Pat Green
-
2000
Austin, Texas
Southpark Meadows
Willie Nelson, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Mark David Manders
-
2001
Luckenbach, Texas
-
Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Pat Green, Leon Russell, Cory Morrow, David Allen Coe
Cancelled
2002
-
-
-
-
2003
Spicewood, Texas
Two River Canyon Amphitheater
Willie Nelson, Pat Green, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, The Dead, Merle Haggard, Leon Russell, Toby Keith, Patty Griffin and Billy Bob Thornton
Concert performed on July 4-5
2004
Fort Worth, Texas
Billy Bob's Texas
'Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Cross Canadian Ragweed and Clarence Brown
-
2005
Fort Worth, Texas
Billy Bob's Texas
Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Doobie Brothers and Pauline Reese
-
2006
Fort Worth, Texas
Billy Bob's Texas
Willie Nelson, Paula Nelson, Noel Haggard, Shooter Jennings, Lucas Hubbard, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Folk Uke
-
2007
George, WA
Gorge Amphitheater
Son Volt, Old 97s, Drive-By Truckers and 40 Points
-
2008
Selma, Alabama/Houston, Texas
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater/Sam Houston Race Park
Ray Price, Paula Nelson, David Allan Coe, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Los Lonely Boys and Del Castillo
-
2009
-
-
-
-
2010
Bee Cave, Texas
The Backyard
'Tim O'Connor[disambiguation needed], Ray Wylie Hubbard, Kris Kristofferson, The Reflectacles, Jamey Johnson and Jack Ingram
-
2011
Fort Worth, Texas
Billy Bob's Texas
Willie Nelson, Country Throwdown tour, Billy Joe Shaver and David Allan Coe'
-
2012
Fort Worth, Texas
Billy Bob's Texas
Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, Billy Joe Shaver, Ray Price, Johnny Bush
-
2013
Fort Worth, Texas
Forth Worth Stockyards, Billy Bob's Texas
Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, Billy Joe Shaver, Ray Price, Johnny Bush, Leon Russell, Kris Kristofferson, David Allan Coe, Ray, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jamey Johnson, Paula Nelson
40th anniversary picnic

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Thomas, Dave (March 16, 2012). "40 Years Ago, Dripping Springs Reunion Helped Create Austin's Musical Identity". American-Statesman (Austin 360). Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Hinds, Allie (June 29, 2012). "The History of Willie's Picnic". NBCDFW (NBCUniversal, Inc). Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ "July 4, 1975 Senate Resolution 287". stillisstillmoving. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  4. ^ Jasinski, Laura E. "Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Thomas, Dave (May 21, 2012). "The (almost) definitive chronology of Willie's Fourth of July Picnics". American-Statesman (Austin 360). Retrieved May 28, 2012.