Three’s Company

It must be a millennial thing. Three people grace the cover of this month’s end-of-the-century issue. One of those three, Willie Nelson, has previously been on the cover of Texas Monthly three times ( August 1976 , May 1991 , and April 1998 ). Also, the cover was shot in three locations. Photographer Michael O’Brien spent about thirty minutes with each subject: Carl Lewis at his Houston restaurant, Michael Dell in a conference room at his company’s headquarters in Round Rock, and Willie on his ranch outside Austin. The three were then put together by Texas Monthly ’s three-person design team. By the way—wouldn’t you know it?—this is the third time that O’Brien has shot Willie. The first was in 1985, during the filming of Red Headed Stranger , when he spent a month on Willie’s ranch for Life magazine. Back then, O’Brien was living in New York City, but he fell in love with Austin and eventually moved there. Fourteen years later (ain’t it funny how time slips away?), he still has high regard for Willie, who he says remains an “angelic spirit” at 66—an age, you surely realize, that’s divisible by three.

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