It seems like every week, there is a new internet hoax about some celebrity dying. Some weeks it’s Kanye West, other weeks it’s Willie Nelson. It’s something that the famous country singer has learned to take in stride, much like the jokes about his pro-marijuana stance and his unlikely friendship with Snoop Dogg.
In celebration of his 84th birthday on April 29, 2017, the country artist took the stage at the Stagecoach festival in Indio, perhaps the largest country music festival in the world. The Red-Headed Stranger was also busy promoting his newest album, God’s Problem Child, containing the most new original material on any album since his 2014 release of Band of Brothers.
Of particular note, however, is the lead single from God’s Problem Child, titled, “Still Not Dead.” The song addresses the multiple rumors that plague Willie Nelson and many others online. The lyrics poke fun at the hoax that has plagued the country singer since at least as far back as 2011, with a new iteration appearing every few months.
“Well, I woke up still not dead again today
The gardener did not find me that way
You can’t believe a word that people say
And I woke up still not dead again today”
Willie got to celebrate his birthday with the sold out crowd at the Stagecoach festival in grand style. Willie took the stage 30 minutes late, and as he approached, his son, Lucas Nelson, and several other friends surprised the country singer with a guitar-shaped chocolate cake and a bevy of gifts.
So for country music fans, there’s still a bit of good news in that Willie Nelson is still confirmed to be alive and well as of April 29, 2017. And the singer has his sass and good humor intact.
Fans who were there noted that the reason that Willie Nelson started his set late was to accommodate Bradley Cooper as the actor filmed some sequences from his upcoming movie, A Star is Born.
Surprise! That fuzzy thing to the left is the one and only #BradleyCooper on the Palomino Stage during a secret filming session of his upcoming movie, "A Star is Born"! It happened right before @willienelsonofficial's set! Did you catch a glimpse of him from the crowd? ????????✨ #stagecoach #astarisborn #ladygaga #countrymusic #coachellavalley (????: @shadp40)
What is Stagecoach?
Stagecoach is the largest country music festival in the world, often compared to Coachella. Stagecoach is a little smaller than Coachella, with an estimated 80,000 guests versus Coachella’s 120,000. Both festivals are held at the same site, the Empire Polo Club in Indio, and are actually often called sister festivals.
Stagecoach was founded in 2007 and has been a venue for numerous country acts, pulling from the full range of the genre with acts from bluegrass to mainstream. For example, on the closing night of the 2017 festival on April 30, 2017, acts included Los Lobos, Cowboy Junkies, Kenny Chesney, Cody Johnson, and Kiefer Sutherland.
2012 saw Stagecoach sell out for the first time, as the festival grew in popularity, leading to changes in how festival goers were able to camp on the fairgrounds. Stagecoach provides on-site RV Resorts with free showers, an internet cafe, and free shuttles to a local supermarket. There are 50 and 30 amp hookups that are 20 x 50 feet available as well as dry areas for vehicles that don’t require external power.
One thing that Stagecoach is well noted for is its alcohol policy. When it comes to Coachella, alcohol consumption is prohibited outside of specifically designed areas. Stagecoach, on the other hand, allows all attendees that are 21 and older to enter the festival with up to two cases of beer, bottles of liquor, or boxes of wine. It’s not uncommon to see Stagecoach festival goers wandering around, beer in hand. Also of dubious note is that Stagecoach had over 157 alcohol related arrests in 2015.
For non-RV drivers, Stagecoach no longer allows on-site camping, referring all visitors to hotels and campgrounds off-site with free shuttles to and from the festival.
For country music fans, the last weekend in April has traditionally been a great one; this year, with Willie Nelson surviving for another year and proving that he’s “Still Not Dead,” it’s superlative.
[Featured Image by Mark Humphrey/AP Images]