Willie Nelson The Irs Tapes
February 11, 2012 by staff
Willie Nelson The Irs Tapes, The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? is an album by American country and western singer Willie Nelson. The album, featuring only Nelson and his guitar, was released in 1992 to pay Nelson’s tax debt with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Initially, the album was only distributed by phone order, but later negotiations with Sony Music saw it being distributed in stores.
The album generated US$3.6 million for the IRS, who requested a further US$9 million from Nelson to satisfy his debts. It was well received by the critics who delivered positive reviews.
In 1990, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seized most of Nelson’s assets, claiming that he owed US$32 million. It was later discovered that his accountants, Price Waterhouse, had not been paying Nelson’s taxes for years. In addition to the unpaid taxes, Nelson’s situation was worsened by the weak investments he had made during the early 1980s. His lawyer, Jay Goldberg, negotiated the sum to be lowered to US$16 million. Later, Nelson’s attorney renegotiated a settlement with the IRS in which he paid US$6 million, although Nelson did not comply with the agreement.
To pay his debt, Nelson recorded The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories, featuring him and his guitar, without the accompaniment of his band. The album was constituted by a compilation of Nelson’s hits.
The album was released in 1992; by that time, the assets of Nelson had been auctioned. The items were returned to Nelson by fans and friends who purchased them. Nelson promoted the album during a benefit concert for the restoration of the Texas State Capitol. During an appearance on Primetime live, Nelson wore a t-shirt with the nonexistent toll-free number 1-800-IRS-TAPE, that allegedly was the number to call to order the album. After 500 calls, Jon Richards, the owner of Visual Technology. Inc., announced that he would let Nelson lease or purchase the number to avoid that the false promotion affected the sales of the album. Besides of the phone orders, Nelson also negotiated with Sony Music to distribute the album in stores. The IRS collected US$3.6 million from the sales of the album, and after a payment of US$9 million during the next five years, Nelson’s debt was satisfied.
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