Legendary country singer Willie Nelson shocked fans in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday night when he abruptly walked off the stage and canceled the show.
According to a TMZ report, Nelson cited an undisclosed illness as the reason for his unexpected departure from the stage. Willie Nelson, 85, was set to perform at the Outlaw Music Festival. He even arrived on the scene and appeared ready to play. However, the singer quickly threw his hat into the audience and shuffled off leaving fans confused. Some reports say he showed up back onstage another time but never performed.
According to the Charlotte Observer, fans were kept waiting in the audience with no word on what had happened or if Willie Nelson would return to the stage later in the evening. Finally, after an hour, word came that he would not return and the show was canceled.
Some fans at the venue thought the “Always On My Mind” singer looked angry, but later Live Nation attributed the Country Music Hall of Famer’s actions to an illness.
At 11 p.m. last night, Live Nation Carolina tweeted, “Due to illness, Willie Nelson was unable to play tonight at the Outlaw Music Festival at PNC Music Pavilion Charlotte. Fans are asked to please hold on to their tickets until the new date is announced.”
The Outlaw Music Festival has been plagued by cancellations. Elvis Costello had to cancel in April for a surgical procedure. Brandi Carlile canceled just two weeks ago because of overseas obligations. Then, Willie Nelson was unable to perform. Fans ended up hearing sets from Sturgill Simpson, Old Crow Medicine Show, Wild Feathers, and Mitchell Lee.
Many ticket holders expressed their disappointment on Twitter and demanded refunds.
Meanwhile, this marks another cancellation in a rough year of them for Nelson. In February, Willie Nelson suffered a case of the flu, so he ended up canceling several concert dates. However, in those cases, at least fans weren’t left waiting for an hour to find out what happened. Those missed dates were announced in advance, and ticket holders were able to make alternative plans.
So far, there are no specific details about the singer’s illness, but at 85, health issues can get complicated if they aren’t adequately addressed. It’s incredible to see him still performing at his age. In April, Nelson’s album Last Man Standing dropped two days before his milestone birthday. Hopefully, he’ll recover quickly from whatever was ailing him last night.