There are a few big-time famous musicians who spend enough of their lives on Maui that we can safely call them residents–Pat Benatar, Steven Tyler, Mick Fleetwood–but few have the style, class and sheer historical import of Willie Hugh Nelson, who owns a home in Spreckelsville. He’s been a legend in country music for many decades, but it’s in the field of smoking weed that Nelson has made it into American folklore.
In fact, yesterday GQ posted a longform interview (which I found out about from this Vice blog post that went up today) with Nelson that finally brought confirmation to one of the greatest pot-smoking legends surrounding Nelson: that during the Jimmy Carter Administration, Nelson smoked weed on the roof of the White House.
Smoking marijuana on the White House roof. Mentioned in his autobiographies, Nelson was always a bit cagey about the Carter Administration “insider” who apparently got Nelson access to the White House roof.
“Nelson has always declined to identify his accomplice in mischief,” GQ writer Chris Heath wrote in the piece. “But I’ve spent the past few weeks immersed in Nelson’s life, and having picked off little clues from all that’s been written and said over the years, I feel like I might have a pretty good idea. And what Nelson has just said to me seems like an open invitation to chance it.”
Heath does chance it, offering Nelson the name of Chip Carter–Jimmy Carter’s son.
“Looked a lot like,” Nelson replied to Heath after a lengthy pause. “Could have been, yeah.” In fact, Nelson even said he got the joint from Carter in the first place.
Later, Heath called up Chip himself to get his take on the famous toke (making sure to note that it wasn’t Nelson who gave him his name). “Well, he told me not to ever tell anybody,” Heath wrote that Carter told him shortly before hanging up.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, Nelson also admitted to Heath that sometimes even Maui can feel a bit restricting:
“Every place gets old after a while. I have a nice home in Maui, and even that…you know, I get a little anxious to go away after a while. I just like to travel. That’s what I do. I just enjoy moving. It’s really hard for me to stay somewhere—I have to get up and go somewhere.”
Click here for the complete GQ story on Willie Nelson.
Photo of Willie Nelson and President Jimmy Carter in 1978: National Archives/Wikimedia Commons