Willie Nelson to Use His 80th Birthday Concert to Benefit West, Texas Volunteer Fire Department
Just hours after the tragic fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, musicians with ties to Central Texas took to social networks to express their grief. Now, less than two days removed from the incident that killed around 35 people and injured over 160 more, Willie Nelson has changed his reaction into action. The American music icon has announced that he is turning his 80th birthday celebration into a benefit concert for the West Volunteer Fire Department.
Nelson has close ties to West, a small rural community just 6 miles south of Abbott, Texas, where Willie was born and grew up. He tells CMT:
"West is like our backyard. It's where I grew up. I road my bike from Abbott to West and back all the time on that road where all this stuff happened. There are a lot of our friends and loved ones and neighbors down there. We talked to some of them and some of them made it out OK, and some of them didn’t, but they’re strong and they’ll be back. It’s one of those things you don’t get over. But you will get through it.”
The Country Music Hall of Famer originally went to his Twitter page to announce information about the benefit concert, saying,
"The previously scheduled concert on 4/28 at @thenewbackyard will now benefit West VFD. Details to come soon."
Willie already had big plans for this concert, which was originally going to be an 80th birthday celebration. He already had his whole Family band tapped for the show, and Nelson assures us that none of that will change.
"I'll be there, and my son Lukas, my son Micah and daughters Paula and Amy. We'll all be there doing a benefit show now. Until today, it was set up as a birthday show. But since the West tragedy happened, we decided to start a benefit there and let other people join in. If they want to donate to the West Volunteer Fire Department, they can do so. That's where our proceeds are going to go on that day."
As the grim search continues through the rubble in West, 35 people are believed to have been killed, including 5 members of the West Volunteer Fire Department, four EMS workers and an off-duty Dallas firefighter who pitched in to help. The search for survivors continues.