Born in Abbott, Texas, in 1933, Willie Nelson has become an icon with few peers, and on this, his 89th birthday, we celebrate the patron saint of the road and remember when he was first featured on our magazine’s cover — back in 2003 at the youthful age of 70.

The photo that graces this page was shot by Les Leverett, official photographer for the Grand Ole Opry, in 1965 — some 57 years ago. Leverett’s daughter, Libby, is in the foreground.