Country music legend Willie Nelson is giving up on smoking weed, something he’s been synonymous with for decades. He revealed the news to KSAT TV’s Paul Venema during a recent interview while in San Antonio, Texas for two sold out performances.
“I have abused my lungs quite a bit in the past, so breathing is a little more difficult these days and I have to be careful,” the 86-year-old said.
“I started smoking cedar bark, went from that to cigarettes to whatever,” he said. “And that almost killed me. I don’t smoke anymore – take better care of myself.”
He’s had health issues in recent years which have led some to worry that he could be near the end. But Nelson isn’t concerned.
“I don’t give a shit, I’m here, I’m glad to be here,” he said. “I’m lucky to be here.”
Nelson said he still loves performing, as well. “It’s an energy exchange,” he said, in reference to being in front of the audience. “They give me a lot of positive energy and I hope to give them a lot of positive energy.”
“For an hour they get away from everything they don’t like.”
Nelson has said in the past that marijuana saved his life. “I wouldn’t be alive. It saved my life, really,” Nelson told Rolling Stone earlier this year.
“I wouldn’t have lived 85 years if I’d have kept drinking and smoking like I was when I was 30, 40 years old. I think that weed kept me from wanting to kill people. And probably kept a lot of people from wanting to kill me, too — out there drunk, running around.”
He said that in the ’70s, he was smoking too many cigarettes and drinking too much whiskey, but he gave it up after several bouts with pneumonia.
“I had a pack of 20 Chesterfields, and I threw ’em all away and rolled up 20 fat joints, stuck ’em in there,” he told Rolling Stone. “I haven’t smoked a cigarette since. I haven’t drank that much either, because one will make me want the other — I smoke a cigarette, I wanna drink a whiskey. Drink a whiskey, want a cigarette. That’s me. I can’t speak for nobody else.”