Willie Nelson Walks Off Stage Without Playing, Reschedules Show Due to Illness
There were some very disappointed fans in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday night (May 26), after Willie Nelson left the stage without playing a single song and did not return.
The 85-year-old country music legend was scheduled to perform a headlining set as part of the Outlaw Music Festival Tour date at the PNC Music Pavilion. The fan-shot video above captures the moment that he enters the stage, walking gingerly and acknowledging the roar of the crowd with a wave.
He goes over to his guitar stand and gets his guitar strap, and then he picks up Trigger, his trademark battered guitar. But before he even straps the guitar around his shoulders, he sets it back in its stand, takes off his cowboy hat and throws it into the audience before departing the stage on the opposite side from where he entered. He can be seen exiting through the stage door as his confused band members remain on stage, wondering whether he will return or not.
The video's caption explains that it was the second time Nelson had attempted to take the stage on Saturday night, then left without playing. The concert's producers later turned to social media to announce that he was rescheduling the date:
Multiple concertgoers complained online that they had waited an hour or more after Nelson left the stage before the announcement came that he would not return to perform. To make matters worse, Brandi Carlile and Elvis Costello both canceled their scheduled performances before the show. According to the Charlotte Observer, Costello pulled out in April, citing "a non-life-threatening surgical procedure," while Carlile canceled two weeks ago "due to unexpected family obligations overseas."
Fans did get to see sets from Old Crow Medicine Show and Sturgill Simpson, as well as Wild Feathers and Mitchell Lee, but in the absence of several main draws, some fans turned to Twitter to ask about refunds for the festival.
Nelson has been battling emphysema and other health issues, and he's canceled or rescheduled a number of shows over the course of the last year. Most recently, he was forced to cancel all of his February tour dates so he could recover from a terrible bout with the flu.
Nelson's publicist tells The Music Universe that Nelson canceled his performance Saturday due to a stomach bug, but he is currently scheduled to go forward with his planned performance on Sunday (May 27) at the Anthem in Washington, D.C., with Sturgill Simpson.
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