Willie Nelson cancels August tour dates, but not giving up on performing yet

Actor/singer-songwriter Willie Nelson attends a Q&A following the Luck Cinema screening of 'Red Headed Stranger' at Luck Ranch on July 06, 2019 in Spicewood, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Shock Ink)

Turns out Willie Nelson will, in fact, be on the road again.

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Fans of the legendary singer were worried after he announced via Twitter he would be canceling his “Willie Nelson and Family” tour due to a breathing problem. But, his agent later said he’d only be taking a sabbatical from six of his August stops of his North American tour, telling TMZ the braided country star needed extra R&R due to medical issues related to emphysema.

The canceled dates are for the shows in Grand Rapids, Mich., Huntington, W.V., Florence, S.C., Charlottesville, Va., Greenville, S.C. and Greensboro, N.C.

He returns to the stage September 6 in Gilford, N.H., in time to perform at the Farm Aid concert later in the month with John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Bonnie Raitt and Dave Matthews in Wisconsin.

In 2018, the country star walked off the stage twice, canceling his performance in Charlotte, N.C. at the Outlaw Festival.

He ended up canceling a concert in Salt Lake City as well over breathing issues a year prior.

One look at his decades-long career, and it’s easy to see why the musical storyteller isn’t yet interested in retirement.


Nelson is considered one of the hardest-working performers in the industry, and has been commanding plenty of cold-hard cash over the years because of it.

The Chicago Tribune reported in 1986 that the singer was touring around nine months out of the year, bringing in $12 million annually, pocketing around $6 million. Concert industry insiders estimated he was ranked in the top ten highest-grossing tour acts that year, taking in around $14.5 million.

He hasn’t slowed down much with touring.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, harmonica player Mickey Raphael noted he’s played more than 5,400 shows since he started working with Nelson 45 years ago.

Nelson also has worked to give back.

His Farm Aid concerts, first established in 1985 with legends Neil Young and John Mellencamp, have raised more than $57 million to help keep family farmers on their land.


Nelson’s got plenty of gold (at least 500K sold) and platinum (1M sold) under his belt.

Here’s how many he’s earned  in his career:

Gold: 7

Platinum: 12

2x Multi Platinum: 4

4x Multi Platinum: 3

5x Multi Platinum: 1


Nelson hasn’t always traveled green pastures, especially when it came to handling his financials.

The IRS came calling after examining substantial deductions for tax shelter investments between 1972 and 1984.

Uncle Sam determined it wasn’t legit, disallowing it and giving Nelson a bill for more than $16 million.

They determined he owed $6 million in taxes, $10 million in interest and underpayment penalties for six years.

It was considered at the time one of the largest individual federal income tax bills ever generated by the IRS.

That debt doubled by 1990 to $32 million; federal agents ended up raiding his home and taking everything except his guitar Trigger (which his daughter reportedly snuck out of the home before agents had a chance to seize it).

Turned out, even after auctioning items and taking his Pedernales Country Club, recording studio, Dripping Springs Ranch along with 20 other properties – he still owed $15 million.

Here’s when things got interesting: an album negotiated by Nelson’s lawyers to help pay the bills.

Unfortunately the IRS was only able to collect some $3.6 million from the sales of The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?

Eventually, he was able to pay off the debt after settling a lawsuit against his former accountants at Price Waterhouse.



To put it bluntly, Nelson has been known for having his hands in the sticky green stuff, but he only recently ventured into the business with “Willie’s Reserve.”

Fittingly, he serves as the company’s “CTO” – or Chief Tasting Officer.

By January of 2018, the company announced it had raised nearly $30 million for the marijuana venture, which includes “menus of products,” including edibles.