On Wednesday morning, Willie Nelson, 87, fired up his car at his Spicewood, Texas, ranch and headed to a drive-up clinic in nearby Cedar Park to receive his Covid-19 vaccination shot.
“We’re lucky,” Nelson’s wife Annie tells Rolling Stone. “We made sure that [he] wasn’t cutting anybody — in fact, the healthcare workers were kind of angry that we had waited so long, because he is 87 years old and has COPD.”
Bobbie Nelson, Willie’s sister and piano player, who turned 90 this month, received the Moderna vaccine too. The immunization will hopefully be the first step in getting the two musicians back on the road; Nelson played his last show on March 4th at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for an audience of more than 80,000 people. “I’m not sure we weren’t exposed to [the virus] there,” Annie Nelson says.
While they’ve been locked down, Annie says she has been “insanely type A” about keeping her husband safe. “Stuff doesn’t even come into the house unless it gets sterilized,” she says. But still, Willie has been working a lot, writing songs and recording multiple projects at his home studio, including an album with his sons Lukas and Micah. “We work out three times a week to keep sane, and he sings, and that’s really helpful,” Annie says. “Sometimes he just puts on his [SiriusXM] channel Willie’s Roadhouse and sings at the top of his lungs to his music. That’s good exercise.”
The Nelsons registered together online for the vaccine. “We drove up…and we just gave them our arm, they gave us the shot, you get a card. And you get a next appointment. Then you register with the CDC. They need to ask you questions, and we’re all in on helping, so that’s what we did. We want the most information people can get.”
What was Willie’s reaction to the left-arm shot? “He was bragging yesterday after he got it that he didn’t even have a sore arm,” she says. “Now, today, of course his arm is sore. We’re both just a little tired. I don’t know if we wouldn’t be tired anyway, but we’re gonna do what they said and let the vaccine do its job.”
As for getting on the road again, Annie says that Willie is hoping to resume touring by the fall: “It’ll probably be late August, September before things can get back to normal, and that’s if everybody gets the vaccination, so we can get some kind of herd immunity. [Willie] said, ‘Right now, it’s basically turd immunity.’”