- Horoscope: Taurus
- Net worth: $25 000 000
- Nationality: American
- Fathers name: Ira Doyle Nelson
- Mothers name: Myrle Marie Nelson
- Education: Abbott High School Baylor University
- Hair color: Brown
- Eye color: brown
- Match marriage: married
Willie Nelson: biography
Willie Hugh Nelson is a famous American country singer, songwriter, producer, and media personality. He came to prominence after releasing his outstanding albums «Shotgun Willie» (1973), «Red Headed Stranger» (1975) and «Stardust» (1978). Besides, he has starred in more than 30 movies, has co-written several books and has been an active member of the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana movements. Before his time, Nelson has suffered poverty and an unemployment. Let’s know how he managed to reach such high results!
Childhood and youth
Willie's birthplace is Abbott, Texas, the United States. He was born there on April 29, 1933, to the family of Myrle Marie (née Greenhaw) and Ira Doyle Nelson. His birth was incorrectly recorded by Dr. F. D. Sims as April 30. Nelson got his middle name Hugh in honor of his cousin's Mildred recently deceased younger brother.
Willie has always been interested in his family's history. When he was young, he discovered that his ancestor John Nelson had served as a major during the American Revolutionary War.
Before Willie was born, his parents had moved to Texas from Arkansas in 1929 for the sake of finding a decent job. His grandfather was a blacksmith, while his father worked as a mechanic. Nelson's mother left the family shortly after his birth. His father met a new woman, remarried and left him and his sister Bobbie to the grandparents. They were singing tutors and transmitted their love for music to the kids. Willie's grandfather presented him a guitar when he was only six years old, and the boy began learning how to play it. In his childhood, Nelson performed gospel songs in the local church alongside Bobbie. As a 7-year-old kid, Nelson wrote his first lyrics. At the age of 9, the talented boy joined local band Bohemian Polka. In summer Willie's family earned a living by picking cotton. He himself didn't like the occupation and earned money through singing in dance halls, taverns, and honky tonks as a teenager. That time his music was influenced by such artists as Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Django Reinhardt, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong.
Nelson studied at Abbott High School. There he joined football, basketball and baseball students' team. Attending school, he sang and played guitar in The Texans, a band formed by his sister's husband, Bud Fletcher. They often performed at KHBR in Hillsboro, Texas. Besides, Nelson worked as a relief phone operator in Abbott, a tree trimmer for the local electric company, and a pawn shop employee. Having graduated from the school in 1950, he spent eight months in the U.S. Air Force. When Willie got back to home, he married Martha Matthews. Later he entered Baylor University to study agriculture. There he joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and eventually dropped out of his educational establishment to make music professionally. He worked as a nightclub bouncer, autohouse partsman, saddle maker, and tree trimmer again. He later joined Johnny Bush's band.
Willie was hired as a DJ at KBOP. He was fortunate to get this job cause he didn't have any experience in it. With the equipment of the station, Nelson made his first two recordings in 1955: «The Storm Has Just Begun» and «When I've Sung My Last Hillbilly Song.» He sent the singles to a local label SARG Records – the company rejected the demos.
Nelson then served for KDNT in Denton, KCUL, and KCNC in Fort Worth, where he hosted The Western Express, taught Sunday school and played in nightclubs. In several months Willie moved to San Diego. Having failed to find a decent job there, he hitchhiked to Portland, Oregon to live at his mother's. She denied picking him up, and he had nothing to do but sleep in a ditch. Nelson hopped a freight train bound for Eugene. A truck driver drove him to a bus station and loaned him $10 for a ticket to reach Portland.
At last, Nelson found a job - he was hired by KVAN in Vancouver, Washington and frequently appeared on a television show. 1956 was marked by his first recording «No Place For Me.» Unfortunately, it failed. Willie kept on working as a radio announcer and singing in Vancouver clubs. He performed in a Colorado nightclub several times. Later Nelson moved to Springfield, Missouri. He applied for working on the Ozark Jubilee but failed and began working as a dishwasher. He wasn't pleased by it and moved to Texas again. After a short time in Waco, he settled in Fort Worth and gave up music for almost one year. Trying to earn a living, Nelson sold bibles, and vacuum cleaners door-to-door. He also was a sales manager for the Encyclopedia Americana.
In 1958 Nelson became a father. The family rented a flat in Pasadena, Texas. There he worked at the radio station as the sign-on disc jockey.
Living there, the musician created two top songs for Pappy Daily on D Records called «Man With the Blues»/«The Storm Has Just Begun» and «What a Way to Live»/ «Misery Mansion.»
He changed his occupation again – started working as an instructor in Paul Buskirk's school.
In 1960 future star moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Living there, she liked visiting Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, a bar near the Grand Ole Opry – the show's stars and other singers and songwriters often arranged there. At the bar, Nelson got acquainted with Hank Cochran, a songwriter who worked for the publishing company Pamper Music, with Ray Price, its owner and with Faron Young, a country music singer. The latter offered Nelson sign a contract. Shortly after Willie joined Price's touring band – he performed as a bass player. That time he got popularity due to the top hits «Funny How Time Slips Away» (Billy Walker), «Pretty Paper» (Roy Orbison), and «Crazy.»
In 1961 the singer signed a contract with Liberty Records and began working at Quonset Hut Studio. The next year he pleased his fans by two new successful singles «Willingly» and «Touch Me.» In September 1962 he published the album called «...And Then I Wrote.» At the beginning of 1964, Willie was signed to Monument Records. However, together, they published only one track – «I Never Cared For You.»
At the end of 1964, Willie signed a benefit deal for $10,000 per year with RCA Victor. With the label's help, Nelson released the album «Country Willie – His Own Songs» in 1965. The same year, the star began performing at Grand Ole Opry. There he got acquainted and became friends with Waylon Jennings. They got along well and created their own backing band «The Record Men,» with Johnny Bush, Jimmy Day, Paul English and David Zettner. Initially, working with RCA Victor, Nelson didn't succeed to publish something really successful and outstanding. However, in the period from November 1966 to March 1969 his tracks reached the Top 25 in a consistent manner. So, that time he released «One in a Row,» «The Party's Over» and «Bring Me Sunshine», «Waltz Across Texas», «Miles Davis», «As Time Goes By» - his best-selling recordings while partnering with RCA.
In the 1970s Nelson embarked on concert tours which didn't bring him commercial success. In 1971 his song called «I'm a Memory» reached the top 30. Being disappointed by the failure of his albums, Nelson parted ways with the RCA label and decided to give up music.
Having moved to Austin, Texas, Nelson got influenced by hippie musicians. They inspired him for working again. There he played his own music style – a fusion of a country, folk, and jazz. The musician visited Dripping Springs Reunion – a music festival. The event encouraged him to arrange his own festival Fourth of July Picnic.
So, Willie decided to return to music again. He found a manager to negotiate with RCA – Neil Reshen. Eventually, the label agreed to end his contract. Some time later, Nelson moved to Atlantic Records – they signed a deal for $25 000 per year. Willie was the first country musician of the company. Nelson even had his own backing group called «The Family.»
May 1973 was marked by releasing of Nelson's studio album «Shotgun Willie.» The collection received positive reviews. However, its sells level remained low. In 1974 the musician released «Phases and Stages» - a concept album about a couple's divorce. Nelson was encouraged to create the collection by his own experiences. One of the album's most famous song is «Bloody Mary Morning.»
Shortly after, Nelson was signed to Columbia Records. According to their contract, he was absolutely free in terms of creating music – he was allowed to do it due to the success of his previous albums, including «Red Headed Stranger» (1975). The same year, Willie toured across the country.
Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson were combined into a genre. In 1976 they recorded album «Wanted! The Outlaws» with the help of Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser – the collection was certified platinum. The same year, Nelson published gold and platinum «The Sound in Your Mind» and gold gospel album «Troublemaker.»
In summer 1977 Nelson had law problems. So, it turned out that his manager Reshen had not paid taxes. Besides, in June Waylon Jennings received a package containing cocaine sent from Reshen's office. Jennings was arrested but later was revealed cause Reshen's assistant Mark Rothbaum stepped in and took the charges. Eventually, Mark got to prison, and Reshen was fired. Willie Nelson hired Rothbaum as a new manager. In 1978 the musician released two more platinum albums. One of them, called «Waylon & Willie,» was recorded with Jennings. Interestingly, experts said Nelson's album «Stardust» would fail. However, it was certified platinum the same year.
Willie's most popular songs of that time are «Good Hearted Woman,» «Remember Me,», «I’ll Stay Around» (Around and Around) «If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time,», «On The Road Again», «Just Breathe» (As I Come Clean) and «Uncloudy Day.»
In the 1990s and the 2000s, Nelson toured across the country. He released a single «Beer for My Horses» recorded with Keith which got to the top of the Hot Country Chart.
In 2010 Nelson added «Country Music,» a compilation of standards produced by T-Bone Burnett, to the list of his music projects.
That time Willie released «Heroes» recorded with The Legacy Recordings. Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Billy Joe Shaver, and Sheryl Crow took part in the collection. In 2014 the musician's fans were pleased by a new album «Band of Brothers.»
Three years later, Nelson published «God's Problem Child» which consisted of singles recorded with Cannon. In 2018 Willie sang Daniel Lanois's track «Cruel, Cruel World» as a soundtrack of the action-adventure video game Red Dead Redemption 2.
In 2017 Nelson said he would have liked to apply for the position of the U.S. president. He has even recorded a president song, but hasn’t released it.
Nelson’s net worth is evaluated at $25 million.
Nelson has had four wives and is a father for seven kids. His first wife was Martha Matthews – they were married from 1952 to 1962. They gave birth to three children: Lana, Susie, and Willie «Billy» Hugh, Jr. The latter committed suicide in 1991. There was domestic violence in their family –Matthews assaulted Nelson.
Nelson married for the next time in 1963 – his spouse was Shirley Collie. They ended up divorcing in 1971 after Collie found a bill from the maternity ward of a Houston hospital charged to Nelson and Connie Koepke for the birth of Paula Carlene Nelson. The same year, Nelson married Koepke, and they gave birth to their second daughter Amy Lee Nelson. In 1991 Nelson tied the knot with his current wife, Annie D'Angelo. They have two sons together - Lukas Autry and Jacob Micah.
Behind the music, there is the other interesting point of Nelson’s life - the police have arrested Nelson several times for marijuana possession. For the first time, he was accused of it in 1974. Two years later, Willie Nelson and Hank Cochran wanted to travel to the Bahamas. They were late for a flight and had to take off without luggage. They got it in the Bahamas, and the security said he noted marijuana in Nelson’s jeans. As a result, the singer was arrested. His colleague Cochran helped him to leave a jail several hours later. Being excited about it, the musician drank much beer. He ended up waking up in the emergency room. According to the news, he was later transferred to a judge and was ordered to never return to the country.
In 1994 Nelson was arrested near Waco, Texas for marijuana in his car. In 2006 he, his sister and the manager were accused of possession of marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Nelson received six months of probation. The same situation repeated in November 2010 – he was arrested in Sierra Blanca, Texas, for possession of six ounces of marijuana. Nelson had to pay a $500 fine to avoid a two-year jail sentence.
- Here's Willie Nelson (1963);
- Good Times (1968);
- To Lefty from Willie (1977);
- Somewhere Over the Rainbow (1981);
- Island in the Sea (1987);
- Across the Borderline (1993);
- Nacogdoches (2004);
- To All the Girls... (2013);
- My Way (2018);
- Ride Me Back Home (2019).
- The Electric Horseman (1979);
- Barbarosa (1982);
- Red Headed Stranger (1986);
- Once Upon a Texas Train (1988);
- Starlight (1996);
- King of the Hill (1997);
- Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999);
- The Simpsons (2000);
- The Dukes of Hazzard (2005).