Willie Nelson is definitely getting up there in years, but there’s always time for firsts. And for the first time EVER, the 85-year-old country music star will take the stage to perform on behalf of a political candidate.
Nelson is the headline act for a rally in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 29 for Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic Texas Senate candidate who has gained national fame for his punk rock past and a viral video of him defending NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“My wife Annie and I have met and spoken with Beto and we share his concern for the direction things are headed,” Nelson said in a statement, Rolling Stone reported. “Beto embodies what is special about Texas, an energy and an integrity that is completely genuine.”
To be certain, Nelson has performed in a number of political settings, including on the White House’s South Lawn for President Jimmy Carter back in 1980. And much, much more recently — as in, July — Nelson brought O’Rourke onstage to play guitar as he finished his set list with the classics “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
But this month will mark the first time he has strummed and sung directly for a political candidate.
O’Rourke is mounting a grassroots, underdog campaign in a traditionally solid red state with rapidly changing demographics where Democrats see future inroads.
O’Rourke trailed by 4 points in a recent poll to incumbent GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, who also has a national following after unsuccessful primary bids for president in 2012 and 2016.
Donald Trump won the Lone Star State by 9 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016 after Republican Mitt Romney defeated Barack Obama by 16 points in 2012.
Nelson has received backlash from many of his fans on Facebook and Twitter for dipping into politics.
Take a look:
Someone buy my Willie Nelson ticket for Friday, November 16. I am no longer willing to watch that hippie guitarist who supports that damn socialist running for Senate.
— Dakota Boll (@BollDakota) September 13, 2018
The stupid old fool should have just stayed out of politics. Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor did the same thing and I haven't listened to there music since they opened their mouths and I'm from that generation.
— Full Moon Philtre (@fullmoonphiltre) September 13, 2018
What do you expect from a drug addled celebrity such as willie nelson. Naturally he supports the candidate who is just as addled as himself. Last thing Nelson wants is a halt to the drugs flooding over the southern border.#WalkAway #ThursdayThoughts #Florence #VetoBeto #CruzCrew
— RAblogger (@armitageblogger) September 13, 2018
Another foolhardy celebrity SUCKERED into a @DNC candidate who has very bad internal polling (AS YOU CAN SEE BY THE FAN BACKLASH) due to a bad message, more economy damping taxes, regulation and an endless witch hunt into people's lives.
— NJCommonSense (@NJCommonSense) September 13, 2018
@WillieNelson is a Looney Leftist and a walking advertisement for why casual marijuana use is a very bad idea.
— GlenninVirginia (@GlenninVirginia) September 13, 2018
Alienating half of your potential customers isn't a smart business practice…again liberals and pot smokers have no business sense
— Patrick Madigan (@PatrickMadiga18) September 13, 2018