The long awaited Willie Nelson monument was unveiled Friday afternoon outside of the Austin City Limits Studio.
The plan was to pull the cover off the 8-foot bronze statue at exactly “420″ p.m. If you don’t know, 420 is a euphemism for pot, and as we all know, Willie is an unrepentant pot head. April 20 also happens to be the day marijuana legalization forces gather every year to demonstrate in support of the cause.
And since this was an event sponsored by the City of Austin, a bunch of officials and talking heads had to step up to the podium and get some face time.
Fellow country music legend Kris Kristofferson also got up to speak. But the P.A. wasn’t working and no one in the crowd heard anything he said. Mayor Lee Leffingwell got some podium time as well.
The 4:20 p.m. mark came and went and the crowd quickly grew tired of listening to podium speakers. The moment the clock hit 4:20 p.m. they began to chant, “Willie, Willie! It’s 420!” Pot smoke began to waft around in the breeze.
At 4:25 p.m. the tarp was finally pulled off, revealing a bronze Willie in a relaxed pose with guitar in hand. The statue features Willie in ponytails, which harkens back to his late 1970s Outlaws look.
Willie took a moment and studied the statue almost quizzically. It has to be a little humbling, even for a star as big as Willie, to stand next to what will one day be your memorial.
In a sense, the whole “420″ aspect of the event diminished Nelson’s true contributions. Everyone knows Willie likes to get high. But the guy is a living musical legend. He’s a 10-time Grammy Award winner and has sold more than 40 million records. Willie also put Austin on the musical map as one of the leaders of the “outlaw country” movement in the 1970s.
The Willie Monument was funded by Capital Area Statues Inc., a private local group of artists and musicians.
After the unveiling, Nelson sang his new song, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”