Flashback: See Willie Nelson Sing ‘On the Road Again’ at US Festival

Willie Nelson performs one song during Merle Haggard?s set at the 1983 Willie Nelson July 4th Picnic in the infield of Atlanta International Raceway in Hampton, Ga, . Nelson was scheduled for a complete set at the conclusion of the all-day event. This was the first year the annual event was not held in TexasWillie Nelson 1983, Hampton, USA

Willie Nelson gave fans in Austin, Texas, a double dose of entertainment during Independence Day week in 1980. On July 3rd, the entertainer, who made his big screen debut a year earlier in the Robert Redford-Jane Fonda film, The Electric Horseman, attended the world premiere of Honeysuckle Rose, which would mark his first appearance in a lead role. The following day, Nelson hosted his eighth annual Fourth of July Picnic on the 20-acre golf course of his Pedernales Country Club with a crowd of 60,000 braving the stifling heat for what Nelson had announced at the time would be his final July 4th picnic event. After a two-year hiatus, the picnic would return, taking place in Atlanta in 1983 before returning to Austin the following year.

The Honeysuckle Rose premiere at Austin’s Capital Plaza Cinema was attended by Nelson, accompanied by his then-wife, Connie, along with co-stars Dyan Cannon, Slim Pickens, director Jerry Schatzberg and the film’s producer, Sydney Pollack, who also directed Nelson in his previous film role. Others on hand for the auspicious event included actress (and Texan) Sissy Spacek, fresh from her role as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter.

Nelson’s role in Honeysuckle Rose wasn’t exactly against type. The 47-year-old played country singer Buck Bonham, enmeshed in a love triangle with his wife (Cannon) and a young musician, played by…