Today marks the release of Willie Nelson’s latest album, “Band of Brothers.” A collection of mostly Nelson-penned songs, the project stands among Nelson’s best late-career work.
But in 1975, few in the music business knew what to make of Nelson. He was a gifted songwriter, but his own albums hadn’t sold well, he’d been dropped by his previous label, and he’d just handed in a stripped-down album called “Red Headed Stranger.” That album went on to become one of Nelson’s landmarks, effectively launching his career as a country superstar — but at the time, not everyone was convinced.
In this excerpt from “Bruce Lundvall: Playing by Ear,” the authorized biography by Dan Ouellette of the legendary record executive, Lundvall and Nelson talk about how “Red Headed Stranger” was recorded, received and almost rejected by some of the executives at Lundvall’s label, Columbia.
Willie Nelson was gone. While Waylon Jennings fought against the status quo of the early Seventies as an RCA artist, Nelson high-tailed it out of Nashville to his native Texas after