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Happy 4/20: Here’s your Willie Nelson news

It’s April 20, which means it’s something of a national holiday for people with, well, specific interests. One of those people is Willie Nelson. 

The patron saint of Austin and Texas’ favorite pot smoker is constantly in the headlines, even at 83 years old. Here’s a roundup of what Willie’s been up to lately.

First of all, he’s alive. Despite rumors that have been flying around the internet lately, he’s not deathly ill. He’s not dead. He’s perfectly fine (and let’s be real, he’s probably celebrating today).

He turns 84 next week, and local radio station KUTX is celebrating. They’ll play nothing but wall-to-wall Willie from 6 a.m. April 29 to 6 p.m. on April 30. That’s 36 hours of Willie. 

His new album comes out the day before his birthday, and it features a touching tribute to Merle Haggard. The last song on “God’s Problem Child,” Willie’s new album due out April 28, is called “He Won’t Ever Be Gone”—and it’s a beautiful, fitting tribute to his longtime friend and fellow outlaw. The song even features Merle’s son, Ben Haggard, on guitar.

He’s bringing his annual Fourth of July party back to Austin once again. The all-day concert will feature performances from Sheryl Crow, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Johnny Bush, Billy Joe Shaver and of course, Willie himself (not to mention a bunch of members of his extended family, in true Willie fashion). Austin360’s Dave Thomas analyzed this year’s picnic, which features “more women, less contemporary country and higher prices.”

He’s friends with Morgan Freeman. Just when you think Willie can’t get any cooler, he does. He was hanging out on a bus with Freeman and country radio legend Bill Mack earlier this month in North Texas. He’s also friends with Snoop Dogg, in case you didn’t know (and his pal got him a pretty appropriate Christmas gift).

His wife loves pot as much as he does. Willie’s wife of more than 24 years, Annie Nelson, has launched “Annie’s Edibles.” The company’s first product is a marijuana-infused artisan dark chocolate with Himalayan salt, infused with—what else?—Willie’s Reserve.

He still works hard to advocate for farmers. More than 750 square miles of the Texas Panhandle and surrounding states were affected by wildfires in March, devastating the livelihoods of farmers in the area. In Texas, officials cited at least $20 million in agricultural damages. So Willie asked his fans and friends to donate to Farm Aid (the nonprofit he helped create) to help out those affected.

He’s still got it. And of course he does. Did you have any doubt? After telling a San Antonio Rodeo crowd, “I woke up still not dead again today” in February, he threw another fantastic South by Southwest party last month out at his ranch, where horses and hipsters coexist peacefully and Luck, Texas becomes an actual town for a day. He also showed up to celebrate his buddy Ray Benson's 66th birthday during SXSW, joined by his friends the Avett Brothers.



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