Willie Nelson and his band in Stockton, CA. Wikipedia Commons photo.
The Wittliff Collections at Texas State announced a major addition to its Willie Nelson archive last week with a new acquisition of Nelson’s recordings.
Acquired from John Kalinsky, a fan and consummate collector of Nelson’s work, the collection spans 1954-2010. The acquisition from Kalinsky contains 877 recordings, including 45s, LPs, audio cassettes, VHS tapes, CDs, and DVDs.
The acquisition will be added to the Wittliff’s already extensive collection of Nelson holdings of handwritten song lyrics, screenplays, letters, concert programs, tour itineraries, posters, articles, clippings, personal effects and memorabilia, including a handmade songbook created by Nelson when he was around 11 years old.
The collection includes not only include recordings of Nelson performances, but also tracks on which he is a producer, guest musician, or songwriter. The oldest recordings are two 45s by Dave Isbell from 1954, on which Nelson plays guitar. The recordings were released by Sarg Records, a small label from Luling.
The collection also contains Nelson’s first single released under his own name, “No Place for Me” backed with “Lumberjack,” recorded in Vancouver, WA, 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. Among the live recordings are a DVD documentary on Willie’s Fourth of July Picnic in 1974 — a carnival-like affair emceed by Leon Russell with performances by Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, and others.
The Wittliff Collections said it has become the nation’s primary public repository of Willie Nelson materials. 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.