Willie Nelson's White House Story Told in Jimmy Carter Documentary

Like President Obama, Jimmy Carter was a cool president who had lots of friends in high places - or perhaps you could say he knew a lot of musicians who were high.

Like the Allmans Brothers, who supported Carter's 1976 campaign by playing concerts on his behalf.

Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bono, Jimmy Buffett, Garth Brooks and other musical luminaries are featured in Mary Wharton's Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President (watch the trailer above).

BEST BUDS: Jimmy Carter and Willie Nelson in the late ’70s

Willie and the White House

About Nelson's visit to the White House when he got stoned on the roof, Carter recalls:

"When Willie Nelson wrote his autobiography he confessed that he smoked pot in the White House one night when he was spending the night with me and he said that his companion that shared the pot with him was one of the servants at the White House. That is not exactly true. It was actually one of my sons, which he didn't want to categorize as a pot smoker like him."

In his 1988 autobiography, Willie, Nelson writes: 

"Sitting on the roof of the White House in Washington, DC, late at night with a beer in one hand and a fat Austin Torpedo in the other. My companion on the roof was pointing out to me the sights and layout of how the streets run in Washington… I let the weed cover me with a pleasing cloud… I guess the roof of the White House is the safest place to smoke dope."

According to Joe Nick Patoski, author of Willie Nelson: An Epic Life, the White House pot-smoking episode took place in September 1978. He writes: 

"Willie played a show on the White House lawn for NASCAR, singing a duet with First Lady Rosalyn Carter. That night, before retiring to the Lincoln Bedroom… he climbed on the roof of the White House and smoked a joint with one of the Carter boys."

Though Nelson and Patosi didn't name the "Carter boy" in question, it was Chip Carter. He was 28 years old at the time and had been palling around with NORML's Keith Stroup.

In his 2015 book, It's a Long Story: My Life, Nelson says Carter "pulled out a joint" and said, "Think it's time to burn one, Willie, if you don't object." Nelson explains:

"I accepted the offer. The smoke took the edge off my excitement… There I was smoking weed and watching the city lights flicker like fireflies."

Capricorn Records’ Phil Walden in the middle, surrounded by Jimmy Carter (right) and what appears to be Don King(left)

Carter and Capricorn Records

Carter was close to Phil Walden, co-founder of Capricorn Records — home to the Allman Brothers — which was based in Macon, Georgia, Carter, of course, was the governor of Georgia at the time.

According to Gateway Macon:

"Let's take a trip down memory lane to a time when there was a strong link between southern rock and politics. Phil Walden's support of a 51-year-old peanut farmer and former Georgia governor's quest for the Presidency landed Walden and his checkbook right in the middle of a primary presidential campaign after Carter lent his weight to a strict anti-piracy bill.

"Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, throughout his campaigning, associated himself with the rock industry more than any other potential candidate. Throughout his campaign, a number of Capricorn acts played benefit concerts to raise money for Carter's campaign and Carter, in turn, attended Capricorn picnics and introduced the Allman Brothers on stage."

Walden told Country Music Television:

“Jimmy Carter came along and he was a guy I respected ever since he was governor when he announced that the days of segregation were over with. And that was the first governor that had ever done that in Georgia, and it was a new day in Georgia, and people were going to be treated equally and fairly. And then I later met him, and when he asked me to be a part of his campaign, I jumped at the opportunity. It was a great opportunity, and I brought the bands into the situation.”

CMT added:

"For a time, Walden said, Carter in effect became the Allmans’ opening act. He was introduced, gave a short campaign speech and then introduced the band — in the process raising his profile with young voters all over the country. And raking in campaign funds."

Gregg Allman says about Carter in the movie: "He enjoyed our music and became a friend."

What's not mentioned is the copious amounts of drugs - pot, cocaine, etc. - that were comsumed at those concerts both backstage and in the audience.

Carter supported marijuana decriminalization, but federal laws did not change on his watch.

Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President is streaming at Prime and  iTunes


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.