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Off the road again: Willie Nelson halts 5 western U.S. dates due to ‘bad cold or the flu’

Peter Blackstock

The nasty cold/flu bug that’s going around? Willie Nelson apparently has it too. On the road out west this week after another triumphant run of New Year’s Eve shows in Austin, Nelson halted a show Saturday in San Diego during the first song and has decided to cancel his remaining January dates, according to his publicist.

A San Diego Union-Tribune report noted that Nelson didn’t finish his traditional opening tune “Whiskey River” and “was coughing and apparently experiencing some difficulty breathing as he left the stage.”

“He’s got a bad cold or the flu,” Nelson’s publicist Elaine Shock said Tuesday. “He wasn’t feeling well, and he decided it would be best to just go back to Maui,” where Nelson lives when he’s not at his ranch just west of Austin.

Nelson had some similar issues last winter, calling off a handful of shows in late January and early February with what he later confirmed was a case of pneumonia. But he was back in action for a stellar show at the San Antonio Rodeo in mid-February 2017.

The canceled dates included two shows in Southern California this week and three in Nevada this weekend. Schock said Nelson expects to be back on track for a run of southeast U.S. shows beginning Feb. 7 in Georgia.

His next ticketed shows in the Austin area are April 20-21 at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels with Robert Earl Keen opening. He’s also scheduled to host and perform at the annual Luck Reunion on his ranch in Spicewood during South by Southwest.

READ MORE: The Year in Willie, a look back at Nelson’s busy 2017