Willie Nelson revealed the awful reaction his studio had to one of his biggest albums

Willie Nelson is one of the biggest stars in the history of country music.

But people didn’t always have faith in his music.

And Willie Nelson revealed the awful reaction his studio had to one of his biggest albums.

Willie Nelson’s studio told him to fix acclaimed album after first hearing it

Country music legend Willie Nelson has released over 100 albums during his nearly 70-year career and sold almost 50 million worldwide. 

But his studio didn’t want him to release what became one of the biggest albums of his career.

Nelson left Atlantic Records after his 1974 album Phases and Stages, when he dropped his country label to sign with Columbia Records.

If it wasn’t for smart negotiating with Columbia, his legendary album Red Headed Stranger may have never been released.

Nelson got the inspiration for the album’s concept from the Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith song “Tale of the Red-Headed Stranger,” which he used to play when he was on his radio show in Fort Worth, Texas.

The concept album tells the tale of “The Stranger” mentioned in the song, who rides into town on his horse and shoots a woman for trying to steal it.

Nelson had left Nashville for Texas at that point in his career to escape what he saw as the overproduced music in mainstream country music.

He recorded the album at Autumn Sound Studios in Garland, Texas, where he gave it its stripped-down sound, which featured mostly him on guitar with drums and a piano backing him.

Studio executives shocked at Willie Nelson’s album

Nelson traveled to New York City to meet with Columbia Records executives who hated the album.

They thought it was a demo tape because it sounded too underproduced compared to mainstream country music.

“When the chief Columbia bigwig heard the tracks, he said, ‘Why are you turning in a demo?'” Nelson recalled.

“Ain’t no demo,” Nelson said. “This is the finished product.”

Nelson asked the Columbia executive what the finished product was supposed to sound like.

“Anything but this. The songs feel disconnected. The mood is too down. And the sound is far too flat. You need to go back in and polish it,” Nelson recalled the executive telling him.

But Nelson wasn’t going to budge with the album.

He sent his manager, Neil Reshen, and fellow outlaw country artist Waylon Jennings to New York City to meet with Columbia Records President Bruce Lundvall.

Lundvall didn’t like Red Headed Stranger either and wanted to send it off to Nashville to be cleaned up by producer Billy Sherrill.

Sherrill had worked with country stars like George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

An angry Jennings called Lundvall a “tone-deaf, tin-eared, sonofab****.”

Sherrill hated the album too when he heard it.

“Did he make this in his living room? It’s a piece of s**t! It sounds like he did this for about two bucks. It’s not produced,” Sherrill said after listening to it.

But Nelson’s contract gave him complete creative control over the album so he released it without any changes.

Red Headed Stranger became one of the most successful albums of his career by selling more than two million copies, and was named one of the 500 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone.

And Willie Nelson had one of the biggest triumphs of his decorated career because he stood his ground against his label.

*Renewed Right Official Polling*

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