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8. Willie Nelson

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With our tenth selection we know that we are again breaking traditional Rock protocol. However, sometimes an artist just has a certain intangible that just makes you like them even though his music sounds like nothing else in your CD (now MP3) collection. We here at the Not in Hall of Fame can’t help but think that Willie Nelson is one of those artists.

It seems so impossible that a musician with such a definitive country twang could have such a crossover appeal yet he does.  Fans want to put most musicians on a pedestal, but with Willie, you want to pound some beer back with him and listen to him tell a story or two. He is the true every man, your buddy in the back of the bar who has seen it all. Honestly, we can’t think of anyone would we rather hear tell stories than Willie, and why not; he has been telling us great stories with his music for fifty years. Country music is not well represented in the Hall (it is the Rock Hall after all) but with Johnny Cash and Hank Williams in, if only one more Country artist gets in, our bet is on the leader of the Outlaw Country Movement, Willie Nelson.

The Bullet Points:


Previous Rank:

2010: #11

Eligible Since:


Country of Origin:

U.S.A. (Texas) 

Why He Will Get In:

He could very well be the Country Artist with the most crossover appeal of all time.


Why He Won’t Get In:

Country Music gets no love in Cleveland.

Nominated In:


Essential Albums:

Shotgun Willie (1973)

Red Headed Stranger (1975)

Stardust (1978)

Honeysuckle Rose (1980)

Our Five Favorite Songs as Chosen by Each Member of the NIHOF Committee:

You Made Me Live, Love and Die (From Make Way for Willie Nelson, 1967)

Bubbles in My Beer (From Shotgun Willie, 1973)

Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain (From Red Headed Stranger, 1975)

Midnight Rider (From The Electric Horseman, 1980)

On the Road Again (From Honeysuckle Rose, 1980)



Should Willie Nelson be in the Hall of Fame?

(You must be registered and logged in to vote!)
Definitely put him in! - 65.7%
Maybe, but others deserve it first. - 5.7%
Probably not, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. - 14.3%
No opinion. - 0%
No way! - 14.3%
Last modified on Saturday, 01 February 2014 12:33


+6 #1 jimmy26 -0001-11-29 19:00
Its not that I don't like Willie, I love Willie! He is one of the greatest 10 country artists ever. COUNTRY artists. Willie is not rock. And like the mistakes the rock hall has made with the likes of Johnny Cash n Miles DavisN he should not be in this hall.
+4 #2 Musicologist999 -0001-11-29 19:00
I'm with jimmy26 on this one. Willie Nelson is a great artist---a great COUNTRY artist. Johnny Cash had Rock N Roll crossover appeal---songs like "Hey Porter" have a cool rockabilly swing to them, so I'm perfectly happy with The Man In Black being in the RnR Hall Of Fame. Willie Nelson, to my ears, is purely Country. As greatly talented as Willie Nelson is, putting him in the *Rock N Roll* Hall Of Fame makes no sense to me.
+3 #3 Sean -0001-11-29 19:00
He doesn't deserve in as a performer in the RNRHOF. He doesn't deserve in as an early influence either since he doesn't predate rock 'n' roll.I can see the point of some country acts being inducted if they influenced future country-rock acts (in the same vein as Grandmaster Flash/Run-DMC/B eastie Boys/Public Enemy being inducted because they influenced future rap/rock acts like RHCP/Faith No More/etc...), but I don't think Nelson really influenced (for instance) The Eagles or Linda Ronstadt much, so making an argument for him is hard.Highest ranked act on this site that I don't think belongs, even though I like him.
+4 #4 Knuckles -0001-11-29 19:00
Willie's great. But there's nothing rock and roll about him. Hank Williams (Sr.), Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Willis, those are the influential artists from the country realm. Sharing ancestors does not mean you share blood, necessarily.
+2 #5 Smokestoomuch -0001-11-29 19:00
Can Rock really claim Willie?
+1 #6 biograph 2013-05-12 04:17
Since the Hall has already grabbed country (Johnny Cash), jazz (Miles Davis), dance (Madonna), reggae (Bob Marley), rap (Run-DMC), etc., it's evidently good for all comers. But if Willie's getting in, there's an argument to be successfully made for George and Waylon and Tammy and Merle and Hank Sr. and Dolly and Loretta........

More seriously, I hope Townes Van Zandt is somewhere on this list........
-1 #7 Zach Morgenstern 2013-06-27 12:35
Is the distinction between rock and country really that distinct? Its the same notation system, same song structure, etc. I understand differentiating between lyrics oriented music vs pure music heavy classical, but country, blues, rock, reggae, lyric-based Jazz etc. you can't draw distinctions.
0 #8 Zach Morgenstern 2013-06-27 12:39
Are you all commenters serious. There is no clear cut difference between rock and country. They may have slightly different root rhythms, but unless you online define rock as the music of the 50s (which was heavily country influenced), its not as if rock and roll has one single defining rhythm. I suppose a lot of country singers have southern accents, but thats an arbitrary categorization as well. The only real distinction in western music is between instrumental-or iented classical and jazz composer, and lyric-oriented rock-pop-reggae -country, etc. performers (I realize that distinction is blurred by progressive rock, but that division seems far less arbitrary to me).
+3 #9 Lee Roschen 2014-01-16 22:59
New age artist Yanni started out in a rock & roll band named Chamleon. So would Yanni be thought of for rock and roll hall of fame consideration because he is no longer consider "rock & roll" just as much as Willie Nelson NEVER has been?? I love Willie's music, he belongs in the county hall of fame, but not in this one. Sorry.
0 #10 Carl Hardy 2014-06-30 12:31
Willie Nelson. He is an iconic musician who transens genres of music. Yes he is traditional country. But he is also traditional rock & roll in his tone and style. I feel that country music overall is superior in many respects to traditional rock & roll anyway. So let Willie in. He belongs in both halls, Country (which he is already in) and the rock version.

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