Willie Nelson Returned for Annual Fourth of July Show

Willie Nelson performs at MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Dolly Parton at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 08, 2019 in Los Angeles, California
Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Fans were ecstatic to see Willie Nelson back on the stage for his annual Fourth of July Picnic after missing several shows due to an unspecified illness. Nelson has been out on his Outlaw Music Fest tour with musicians such as his son Lukas Nelson, Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss and others. During Nelson’s absence, his son filled in, singing some of his classic songs.

Nelson and his talented friends held his annual Fourth of July Picnic in Camden, New Jersey. This is the first time in 14 years that he has not held the annual show in Texas. Nelson came out on the stage with his arms in the air and received many cheers from the audience.

The 91-year-old performed hit songs including “On the Road Again,” “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” and “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” plus duets with his son “Texas Flood” and Pearl Jam‘s “Just Breathe.” Even more exciting, Nelson performed the song “The Border” from his newest album for the first time live. Nelson released the album, also called The Border, back in May and it marked his 75th album release.

Luckily, Nelson was able to return for the annual show and it went off without a hitch but this wasn’t always true in the past. Nelson held the inaugural Fourth of July Picnic concert in 1973. During the second annual picnic, a fire destroyed the property and during the third, Nelson was fined $1,000 for violating the Texas Mass Gatherings Act.

Willie Nelson is joined by his son Lukas Nelson and performs during the First annual 2011 Rapids Jam Music Festival at the Carolina Crossroads Outdoor Amphitheate on June 16, 2011 in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

The ’70s could be a scary time and there were around 140 arrests made during the event before they added security measures in the 1980s. The three-day concert event saw four stabbings, four kidnappings, one drowning and three reports of sexual assault. It is truly a wonder that the event kept going but it did on and off over the years.

17th ANNUAL COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION AWARDS, host Willie Nelson, aired September 16, 1983

CBS/Everett Collection

This year, the event’s website explained that it would not be held in Texas this year. It read, “This Fourth of July, the Philadelphia area will be the epicenter of music, history, and celebration as Willie Nelson’s renowned 4th of July Picnic descends upon the City of Brotherly Love.” Comment if you were in attendance at the show and how Nelson appeared to be doing!

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