Willie Nelson always gives great interviews, mainly because he is a witty renegade who can't be policed.
Rumours have swirled for years that Willie Nelson smoked weed on the roof of the White House during Jimmy Carter's presidency; he himself confirmed as much in his '88 autobiography, where he claimed to have sat on the roof with “with a beer in one hand and a fat Austin Torpedo in the other”, although he kept quiet about who he shared the "torpedo" with.
After Nelson first claimed he didn't actually know who joined him on the roof, GQ writer Chris Heath directly asked Nelson whether it was Jimmy Carter's son Chip, to which Nelson said coyly: “Looked a lot like,” he says. “Could have been, yeah.”
GQ: Why have you always been shy about saying?
Nelson: “Well, it ain't something you want to brag about, you know.”
GQ: When you were up there, did you think this is a big deal, this is kind of naughty, or…?
Nelson: “Oh, not at the time. It seemed like the thing to do. We were there, and there it was, and uh…why not, you know? And they have a great view from the roof.”
GQ: But it must have been a good story to tell people.
Nelson: “Well, I don't really go around bragging about that. It happened, and it's something that I don't deny, you know, but I don't bring it up all the time.”
Nelson never outright admits it was Carter, although he adds, “You know, he probably told somewhere, laughing about it”, before stating, more bluntly, when asked if he was worried it would embarrass the President: “Oh, I think he knew me and he knew Chip so, you know, there wasn't much we could do to embarrass him.”
Heath contacted Chip Carter who did confirm this, laughing, “Well, he told me not to ever tell anybody.” The call, as reported by Heath, is below.
"A few afternoons later, I telephone James Earl “Chip” Carter III, now 65 years old, at his home in Decatur, Georgia. He answers the phone and listens as I explain: that I have been talking to Nelson for this article about that famous night on the White House roof, and that Nelson did not volunteer his name, but when he realized I had worked it out, he had talked to me about it.
At first Carter seems to, very briefly, laugh.
“Well,” he says, “he told me not to ever tell anybody.”
I tell Carter that I believe the cat is now out of the bag.
“Okay,” he says evenly.
Then I continue, inquiring whether I can ask him some more about what happened.
“No,” he says. “No, you can't. Thank you.”
And that is when James Earl Carter III hangs up."
The entire GQ piece is fantastic, and well worth reading in whole. Check it out here.