Willie Nelson Recording Collection
Largest Willie Nelson public collection now at the Wittliff
The Wittliff Collections add the Willie Nelson Recording Collection to the archives
SAN MARCOS, Texas—The Wittliff Collections now house the Willie Nelson Recording Collection, which chronicles the career of the Texas singer, songwriter, and bandleader. Acquired from a fan and consummate collector of Nelson’s work, John Kalinsky, the collection spans 1954 to 2010 and contains 877 recordings, including 45s, LPs, audio cassettes, VHS tapes, CDs, and DVDs.
These materials represent a significant addition to the Wittliff’s Willie Nelson holdings of handwritten song lyrics, screenplays, letters, concert programs, tour itineraries, posters, articles, clippings, personal effects, and memorabilia reflecting Nelson’s success as a concert artist, as well as a handmade songbook created by Nelson when he was around eleven years old.
Featuring recordings under Nelson’s leadership as well as tracks on which he is a producer, guest musician, or songwriter, the collection represents Nelson’s enormous output and collaboration with various musicians. The oldest recordings are two 45s by Dave Isbell from 1954, on which Nelson plays guitar, released by Sarg Records, a small label from Luling, Texas. The collection also contains Nelson’s first single released under his own name, “No Place for Me” backed with “Lumberjack,” recorded in Vancouver, Washington, while Nelson was working as a disc jockey.
Also included are deluxe-edition CDs of Nelson’s classic albums as well as box sets with extensive liner notes, recording and session information, and previously unreleased performances. There are also live recordings, including a DVD documentary on Willie’s 4th of July Picnic in 1974—a carnival-like affair emceed by Leon Russell with performances by Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, and others.
With this new acquisition, the Wittliff Collections become the nation’s primary public repository of Willie Nelson materials. See the A-Z Guide in the Research section of the website for details. Much of Nelson’s early discography is on the original vinyl records, and these as well as the other recordings can be listened to in the Wittliff’s reading room by appointment.