Willie Nelson show benefits West firefighters

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by HEATHER KOVAR and DAVID GARDNER

KVUE

Posted on April 28, 2013 at 11:08 PM

BEE CAVE, Texas — Country star Willie Nelson took the stage Sunday night to help raise money for the devastated town of West.

Nelson performed to a sold out crowd of more than 6,000 people at The Backyard at Bee Cave.

His performance followed a show by his sons and daughters and was part of a planned family celebration for his 80th birthday.

But after the fatal explosion in West, he decided to turn his birthday bash into a benefit for the West Volunteer Fire Department.

More than 150 buildings and homes were destroyed in the fertilizer plant explosion on April 17th.

Hundreds were injured and 12 of the 15 killed were first responders.

The red-headed stranger grew up in nearby Abbot and says West was his backyard and his heart is praying for the community he calls home.

University of Texas head football coach Mack Brown presented Willie with a proclamation from the governor and a birthday wish.

Owner of the Paul Mitchell Salon John Paul Dejoria was also among the big names in support of Willie's cause.

"Of course Willie is going to donate a good portion, some firetrucks, and also to the families of those people that had some difficulty. So we are all about that we are supporting our friend here." Dejoria says.

Long time fans drove from all over the country for the big event.

The concert also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Backyard.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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