In the 1950s, country musician Ray Price needed someone to replace his bassist, who had just recently quit. The guy who filled in was none other than Willie Nelson.
From that moment on, the two incredibly talented cowboys began a life-long friendship, one that Nelson will pay his respects to this fall when he releases For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price.
The album is due out Sept. 16 and features several of Price's collaborators, including producer Fred Foster and string conductor Bergen White, who worked with the Country Music Hall of Famer on his last album Beauty Is...The Final Sessions before Price's death in 2013.
"People ask me who my favorite singers are and I say, 'Well there's Ray Price and there's Frank Sinatra,'" Nelson said in an exclusive behind-the-scenes video interview with Rolling Stone Country. "I don't think there was any ever doubt that one day I'd do a Ray Price tribute album."
Here's how Rolling Stone describes record:
"Balanced evenly between country shuffles, orchestral ballads, honky-tonk throwbacks and Price classics like 'Night Life' -- a song that, coincidentally, was written by Nelson -- For the Good Times captures the range of a performer who, during his prime, helped turn country music from an acquired taste into a mainstream genre. With Fred Foster and Bergen White back on board, Nelson treats the source material with respect, rarely deviating too far from the original arrangements.
"Appropriately, the countrypolitan ballads are draped with strings and other orchestral touches, while the honky-tonk-heavy tunes find room for fiddle and Paul Franklin's pedal steel. One of the only curveballs -- and it's a welcome one, really -- is the presence of Nelson's longtime harmonica player, Mickey Raphael, who adds his own blend of metallic swoon and squawk to the mix."
The album will include 12 songs, including classics like "Crazy Arms," "Heartaches by the Number," "It Will Always Be" and "For The Good Times."
Following the release, Nelson and Blackbird Presents are hosting the inaugural Outlaw Music Festival, also announced Tuesday. The Sept. 18 event in Scranton, Penn. features Willie Nelson and Family, Neil Young and the Promise of Real (which also features some of Nelson's kin), Sheryl Crow, and Lee Ann Womack, among others. See full lineup and ticket details here.