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Willie Nelson’s
Fourth of July Picnic, 1985

(Fourth of July III)
South Park Meadows
July 4, 1985
20”X 36” (50.88cm X 89.90cm)

This is the third incarnation of the “Uncle Willie” that I first created in 1983. The second time it was used (1984), the event also took place at this location, Southpark Meadows. An outdoor concert and events venue located on the west side of the southern stretches of I-35, heading south toward San Marcos, New Braunfels, and San Antone, it would be used for two more Picnics, but this was the last to be promoted by this image. This poster also contains photographic images of Neil Young, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings. Other notable musicians include Jesse Colter, Faron Young, Jubal Clark and Billy Joe Shaver. This is the largest poster in my collection, standing nearly 4’ tall and nearly 2’ wide.


This was the second year in a row that the Picnic was held at Southpark Meadows, an outdoor music and events venue on the west side of I-35 South. This year The HighwaymenWillie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings were the main event. Neil Young, fresh from yet another Farm Aid concert with Willie would make his very first Picnic appearance.

For Kris and Waylon, this was a 13-year reunion of sorts; they had appeared with Willie at an outdoor event called The Dripping Springs Reunion, back in 1972. Appearing onstage with Loretta Lynn, Roy Acuff, and Billy Joe Shaver, the event drew over 15,000 out in the heat and caliche 20 miles west of Austin. This gave Willie an idea and the very next Fourth of July, the first Willie Nelson Picnic was born, with an initial attendance of nearly 50,000 people. Jim Franklin, a colleague of mine, did the first poster, and it showed an armadillo poling out from beneath an American Flag. In 1974 I did the poster for the second annual picnic, and parodied Jim’s by depicting Willie emerging from beneath a Texas flag. The event itself was a three-day extravaganza held at the Texas World Speedway near Bryan. An incredible event featuring the likes of Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffett, Rick Nelson and Michael Martin Murphy, it was also notable for a fireworks-spawned fire that ate up nearly a dozen cars, one of which belonged to Robert Earl Keene. In 1975, 90,000 people converged on Liberty Hill for the next one, listening to the Pointer Sisters, among others. 1976 saw the disastrous Picnic in Gonzales that necessitated a break the following year. In 1978 the Picnic was held two days in The Austin Opry House, and I did a variant on the “Uncle Willie” poster for that one. In 1979 I did another with portraits of Willie, Leon Russell and Ernest Tubb for the first Picnic held at the Pedernales Country Club.

This poster commemorates the second year that the Picnic was held at Southpark Meadows, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the rainy swamp that the first one had been. It was however, quite notable for the relentless heat of an abnormally hot and dry July in central Texas. Jubal Clark kicked off the local headliners, including The Geezinslaw Brothers, Steve Fromholtz, and Rattlesnake Annie. The outlaws were there – David Allen Coe, Jerry Jeff Walker, Bonnie Bramlett, Billy Joe Shaver, and Ray Wiley Hubbard. And Nashville in particular was well represented with such greats as June Carter Cash, Faron Young, Johnny Bush, and Hank Snow. It was a typical Picnic, with Willie playing with as many of his musical guests as possible, and especially with the Highwaymen, which was the one act most people came to see. As usual, Willie closed out the show deep into the early morning with Whiskey River.

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