Willie Nelson performs at the Producers & Engineers Wing 12th Annual GRAMMY Week Celebration at the Village Studio on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Flashback: Willie Nelson Sheds a Tear Onstage During Houston Rodeo Performance

Willie Nelson's no stranger to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, with 2020 marking his 11th appearance (nine solo, two with The Highwaymen). His March 4 show wasn't just another night at the Houston Rodeo though, as Nelson's emotional rendition of "Always on My Mind" became the latest benchmark moment in the native Texan's ongoing legend.

His performance at Houston's NRG Stadium was a barrage of hits, including "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" and "On the Road Again." Yet the sweetest moment came when Nelson became overcome with emotion, perhaps over the recent death of his longtime friend and bandmate Paul English, and noticeably fought back tears while singing his version of an often-covered classic.


Nelson's Family Band lineup for the night included one of his talented sons, Lukas Nelson.

Since 1982, "Always On My Mind" has been synonymous with Nelson. Ten years prior, Elvis Presley made the previously obscure song a crossover hit. The song has lived an eventful life apart from its best-known singers, existing as everything from a gospel-tinged R&B song to an unlikely synth-pop hit. Still, it remains relevant as one of the few, if only, instances where a country music singer matched a cultural and commercial watermark set by the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

On Wednesday, March 11, officials announced that the remainder of the Houston Rodeo, which was to run through March 22, was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.

Read More: Watch George Strait Share the Stage With His Grandson, Harvey, at RodeoHouston

The concert lineup impacted by the cancellation includes such heavy-hitting entertainers as Kane Brown, Cody Johnson, Lizzo, Jon Pardi, Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban, Khalid, Gwen Stefani, Chris Stapleton, Marshmello, Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley and others.

Performers appearing on one of Texas' biggest stages before March 11 include Chance the Rapper, Ramon Ayala, K-Pop act NCT 127, Becky G, Midland, Chris Young and Maren Morris.

This article was originally published on March 11, 2020.

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