Willie Nelson abruptly ends show after experiencing difficulty breathing Getty Images/Anna Webber
Getty Images/Anna Webber

This winter has been brutal! Record-breaking snowfalls, sub-zero temperatures that linger for weeks and painful wind chills aren’t just making it uncomfortable to be outside, they’re making it dangerous. And with a flu vaccine that multiple reports say is just 30% effective this year, many are feeling the aches, pains and dreadfulness of the season … including Willie Nelson.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the beloved Texas country star had just taken the stage at Harrah’s Resort Southern California in Valley Center on Jan. 6. Before he could even finish the first song, “Whiskey River,” Willie abruptly left the stage and didn’t return. The show was called off, and several more shows scheduled for the following week were also canceled.

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The newspaper reports that several fans attending the show noticed that the 84-year-old country icon was coughing and seemed to be experiencing difficulty breathing, and a representative for Willie confirmed to the paper that the award-winning singer had developed either a “bad cold or flu” and would return home to Texas to fully recuperate.

As a result of the illness, the paper reports that Willie’s Jan. 8 show in Palm Springs, Calif., was canceled, as were Wednesday, Friday and Saturday shows at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and Sunday’s show in Laughlin, Nevada. According to the country music legend’s website, however, those dates are still currently scheduled to go on, along with February dates on Willie’s calendar.

This isn’t the first time that the legendary country star has had to abort a performance due to illness. Last August, Willie was forced to end a show in Salt Lake City abruptly when he fell ill. He was rushed to the hospital, but blamed altitude for the sudden health issue. And last winter was exceptionally difficult for the star, who canceled shows in January and then again in February due to undisclosed health issues.

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Willie has seemingly suffered respiratory issues ever since he had a lung collapse while surfing in Hawaii in the 1980s. He did give up smoking cigarettes, but is believed to still support a healthy enthusiasm for marijuana. But in spite of his occasional health issues, Willie always bounces back, and boy are we grateful for that! In fact, even with a couple of rounds of health battles in 2017, the fan favorite was still able to release a new album, “God’s Problem Child,” in April and even did some shows with fellow Texan Kacey Musgraves.


Fortunately, Willie’s February dates are in warm and sunny Florida with Los Lonely Boys, and hopefully, that climate will be more conducive to his respiratory health. We certainly send truckloads of healing thoughts and prayers his way as he recovers from this current issue and wish him good health in 2018.

But the rest of us need to buckle up! We still have at least two more months of this insanely frigid weather.

Based in Nashville, Tammy is a 20-year veteran of the country music community. She has worked in marketing, PR and artist development. Follow her @TammyGooGoo and join the conversation @RareCountry
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