Willie Nelson told to sing to save himself from jail

Texan attorney wants him to pay a small fine and sing Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain in court to avoid prison for drugs possession

If Willie Nelson wants to stay out of jail, he is going to have to sing. After being arrested for marijuana possession last year, Nelson has been offered a plea deal by a Texas prosecutor: get away scot-free in exchange for $378 (£236) and a rendition of Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. County attorney Kit Bramblett explained, "You bet your ass I ain't gonna be mean to Willie Nelson."

In November 2010, Nelson was en route from California to Austin, Texas when his tour bus was stopped by police. Agents searched the suspicious-smelling vehicle and claimed to find six ounces (170g) of marijuana, which Nelson admitted was his own. The country singer was taken to Hudspeth county jail and although he posted $2,500 (£1,600) bail, sheriffs warned he could return to spend up to 180 days behind bars.

Happily for Nelson, things seem to have changed after his case landed on Bramblett's desk. Removed from its packaging and paraphernalia, Bramblett said the weight of the marijuana – and thus the seriousness of the charges – dropped. "Between me and the sheriff, we threw out enough of [the marijuana] or smoked enough so that there's only three ounces," he joked to the Big Bend Sentinel. But although Nelson's offence could essentially be waived, with the singer paying a fine by post, Texas officials have resolved to bring the Red Headed Stranger back into their jurisdiction.

Judge Becky Dean Walker allegedly told Bramblett, "Don't [you] dare let Willie Nelson plead through the mail". And so, the prosecutor explained, "I'm gonna let him plead, pay a small fine and he's gotta sing Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain with his guitar right there in the courtroom". The concert is scheduled for the next time Nelson passes near to Sierra Blanca.

Nelson will also be asked to pay a fine of $100 (£63) and court costs totalling $278 (£174). "Willie Nelson is 77 years old and I'm 78," Bramblett said. "He's been my favorite artist all my life. We all know he smokes a little pot."


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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