Willie Nelson

American country musician (born 1933)

Willie Hugh Nelson (/wɪli nɛlsən/; born April 29, 1933) is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist.

Willie Nelson
Nelson performing in 2006
Nelson performing in 2006
Background information
Birth nameWillie Hugh Nelson
Also known asRed Headed Stranger
Born (1933-04-29) April 29, 1933 (age 91)
Abbott, Texas, United States
GenresCountry, progressive country, country rock, outlaw country, alternative country, vocal pop
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, producer, actor, activist
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1956–present
LabelsLiberty, RCA, Atlantic, Columbia, Island, Justice Records, Lost Highway Legacy Recordings
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service1950–1952

In 1961, a song that he wrote was recorded by Faron Young, and became a number one song on Billboard's Hot Country Songs music chart. In 1975, he had his first number one song, as a singer, on Billboard's Hot Country Songs music chart.[1][2]

Early life


Willie Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas on April 29, 1933,[3] during the Great Depression to Myrle Marie (née Greenhaw) and Ira Doyle Nelson.[4] He was born on April 29, 1933, but his birth was recorded by doctor F. D. Sims on April 30.[3] He was named Willie by his cousin Mildred, who also chose Hugh as his middle name, in honor of her recently deceased younger brother.[3] Nelson's ancestry includes English, Irish, and Cherokee.[5] His parents moved from Arkansas in 1929, to look for work. Nelson's grandfather, William, worked as a blacksmith, while his father worked as a mechanic.[6] His mother left soon after he was born,[7] and his father remarried and also moved away, leaving Willie and his sister Bobbie to be raised by their grandparents. The Nelsons, who taught singing back in Arkansas, started their grandchildren in music.[8][9] Nelson's grandfather bought him a guitar when he was six, and taught him a few chords,[6] and with his sister Bobbie, he sang gospel songs in the local church.[10] He wrote his first song at age seven,[11] and when he was nine, played guitar for the local band Bohemian Polka.[12] During the summer, the family picked cotton along with other citizens of Abbott.[13] Nelson didn't like picking cotton, so he earned money by singing in dance halls, taverns, and honky tonks from age thirteen, and continuing through high school.[14] Nelson's musical influences were Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Django Reinhardt, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong.[15][16]

Personal life


Nelson is the co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) advisory board.





Writing of songs



  1. Wolff, Kurt; Duane, Orla (2000). Country Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1-85828-534-4.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. pp. 294–296. ISBN 978-0-89820-177-2.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Patoski, Joe Nick 2008, p. 13.
  4. Scobey, Lola 1982, p. 58.
  5. Nelson, Willie; Bud Shrake; Edwin Shrake 2000, p. 49, 94.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Nelson, Willie (2007). On the Clean Road Again: Biodiesel and the Future of the Family Farm. Fulcrum Publishing. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-55591-624-4. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  7. Laufenberg, Norbert B. (2005). Entertainment Celebrities. Trafford Publishing. p. 473. ISBN 978-1-4120-5335-8. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  8. Patoski, Joe Nick 2008, p. 6.
  9. Reid; Jan p.218
  10. Malone, Bill C. (2002). Country music, U.S.A. University of Texas Press. p. 303. ISBN 978-0-292-75262-7. Retrieved 22 June 2011.[permanent dead link]
  11. Patoski, Joe Nick (May 2008). "The Gospel According to Willie: The Resurrection of the Abbott Methodist Church". Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  12. Kienzle, Richard 2003, p. 236.
  13. Richmond, Clint 2000, p. 7, 8, 23.
  14. Scobey, Lola 1982, p. 47.
  15. Richmond, Clint 2000, p. 17.
  16. Hann, Michael (May 17, 2012). "Willie Nelson: 'If We Made Marijuana Legal, We'd Save a Whole Lotta Money and Lives'". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Ltd. Retrieved January 9, 2014.