Willie Hugh Nelson (born April 29, 1933) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie (1973), combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger (1975) and Stardust (1978), made Nelson one of the most recognized artists in country music. He was one of the main figures of outlaw country, a sub-genre of country music that developed in the late 1960s as a reaction to the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound. Nelson has acted in over 30 films, co-authored several books, and has been involved in activism for the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana.
Born during the Great Depression, and raised by his grandparents, Nelson wrote his first song at age seven and joined his first band at ten. During high school, he toured locally with the Bohemian Polka as their lead singer and guitar player. After graduating from high school in 1950, he joined the Air Force but was later discharged due to back problems. After his return, Nelson attended Baylor University for two years but dropped out because he was succeeding in music. During this time, he worked as a disc jockey in Texas radio stations and a singer in Honky-tonks. Nelson moved to Vancouver, Washington, where he wrote "Family Bible" and recorded the song "Lumberjack" in 1956. In 1958, he moved to Houston, Texas after signing a contract with D Records.
He sang at the Esquire Ballroom weekly and he worked as a disk jockey. During that time, he wrote songs that would become country standards, including "Funny How Time Slips Away", "Hello Walls", "Pretty Paper", and "Crazy". In 1960 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and later signed a publishing contract with Pamper Music which allowed him to join Ray Price's band as a bassist. In 1962, he recorded his first album, ...And Then I Wrote. Due to this success, Nelson signed in 1964 with RCA Victor and joined the Grand Ole Opry the following year. After mid-chart hits in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Nelson retired in 1972 and moved to Austin, Texas. The ongoing music scene of Austin motivated Nelson to return from retirement, performing frequently at the Armadillo World Headquarters.
In 1973, after signing with Atlantic Records, Nelson turned to outlaw country, including albums such as Shotgun Willie and Phases and Stages. In 1975, he switched to Columbia Records, where he recorded the critically acclaimed album, Red Headed Stranger. The same year, he recorded another outlaw country album, Wanted! The Outlaws, along with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser. During the mid-1980s, while creating hit albums like Honeysuckle Rose and recording hit songs like "On the Road Again", "To All the Girls I've Loved Before", and "Pancho and Lefty", he joined the country supergroup The Highwaymen, along with fellow singers Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson.
In 1990, Nelson's assets were seized by the Internal Revenue Service, which claimed that he owed US$32 million. The difficulty of paying his outstanding debt was aggravated by weak investments he had made during the 1980s. In 1992, Nelson released The IRS Tapes: Who'll Buy My Memories?, the profits of the double album, destined to the IRS, and the auction of Nelson's assets cleared his debt. During the 1990s and 2000s, Nelson continued touring extensively, and released albums every year. Reviews ranged from positive to mixed. He explored genres such as reggae, blues, jazz, and folk. Nelson made his first movie appearance in the 1979 film The Electric Horseman, followed by other appearances in movies and on television. Nelson is a major liberal activist and the co-chair of the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which is in favor of marijuana legalization. On the environmental front, Nelson owns the bio-diesel brand Willie Nelson Biodiesel, which is made from vegetable oil. Nelson is also the honorary chairman of the Advisory Board of the Texas Music Project, the official music charity of the state of Texas.
by Jim Casey | @TheJimCasey | April 30, 2018
The Willie Way
Happy 85th birthday to Country Music Hall of Fame member Willie Nelson. The country icon was born on April 29, 1933, in Abbott, Texas.
Photo by Tammie Arroyo
by Jim Casey | @TheJimCasey | May 8, 2017
Willie Nelson Is Back Atop Billboard’s Country Albums Chart With “God’s Problem Child”
If Willie Nelson’s 84th birthday wish was to have another No. 1 album, he got it. - Willie dropped his new album, "God’s Problem Child", on April 28, the eve of his 84th birthday. One week later, God’s Problem Child is the No. 1 album on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and No. 10 on the all-genre Billboard 200.
Not bad for a guy who’s “Still Not Dead.”
The new 13-song offering - seven of which were co-penned by Willie and producer Buddy Cannon - is Willie’s first solo album of all new songs since 2014’s "Band of Brothers", which also reached No. 1.
Over the last few years, Willie has been especially active in the studio, recording a duet album with Merle Haggard - Django and Jimmie - in 2015, as well as tribute albums to George Gershwin and Ray Price in 2016. The former, "Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin", won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards.
by Jim Casey | @TheJimCasey | April 28, 2017
Willie Nelson Is “Still Not Dead” and He’s Got the Moves to Prove It [Watch]
With today’s release of his new album, God’s Problem Child, Willie Nelson is celebrating his 84th birthday one day early.
To jump-start the festivities, Willie dropped a new video for “Still Not Dead,” a tune on the new album that pokes fun at the many reports of Willie’s demise over the years. Co-penned by Willie and Buddy Cannon, the song opens with the Red Headed Stranger singing “I woke up still not dead again today / The internet said I had passed away / If I died I wasn’t dead to stay / And I woke up still not dead again today.”
The new video provides some visual hilarity that features footage of Willie enjoying his morning coffee, playing cards, smoking weed, performing onstage and recording the song in studio.
by Jim Casey | @TheJimCasey | April 20, 2017
High-Mindedness: Listen to Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard Sing “It’s All Going to Pot” on Weed Day
Two years ago today (April 20), Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard released the single and video for “It’s All Going to Pot,” a tune from their duet album, "Django & Jimmie".
Written by Buddy Cannon, Larry Shell and Jamey Johnson, the song and video were released on 4/20, which is known as Weed Day in cannabis-loving circles because it corresponds with the numerical code for marijuana.
“It’s All Going to Pot” is the last single Merle released before his death on April 6, 2016.
by Jim Casey | @TheJimCasey | March 24, 2017
Willie Nelson Ain’t Deathly Sick: “He’s Perfectly Fine,” Says His Publicist
Despite a report from online gossip site RadarOnline, Willie Nelson isn’t “deathly ill.”
According to Willie’s publicist, Elaine Schock, Willie is “perfectly fine.” Elaine made the comments to the Associated Press, citing Willie’s performances at nearly a dozen shows in recent weeks as proof the 83-year-old singer isn’t “weak as a baby.”
Earlier this year, Willie canceled shows on January 28 and 29 and February 6, 7 and 8 due to a “bad cold.” However, the Red Headed Stranger has since returned to the stage, including performing for more than 75,000 fans at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on March 18. Willie has a number of tour dates scheduled in April, including the Merle Haggard Tribute in Nashville on April 6.
In April, Willie is slated to drop his new album, "God’s Problem Child", which features “Still Not Dead,” a tune Willie co-wrote with producer Buddy Cannon.
by Jim Casey | @TheJimCasey | March 10, 2017
Watch Willie Nelson’s Easygoing New Video for “It Gets Easier” From Upcoming Album, “God’s Problem Child”
His easygoing demeanor is on full display in a new video for “It Gets Easier,” a tune he co-wrote with pal and producer Buddy Cannon. The new tune will appear on Willie’s upcoming album, God’s Problem Child, which will drop on April 28.
Even at 83 years old, Willie Nelson makes everything look and sound effortless.
by Jim Casey | @TheJimCasey | February 7, 2017
Willie Nelson Cancels More Shows Due to Illness
Willie Nelson was forced to cancel three shows at the Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, Calif., this week due to an undisclosed illness. Willie’s show on Feb. 6 was cancelled, as well as scheduled shows on Feb. 7 and 8.
Last month, Willie cancelled two shows at Las Vegas’ Venetian Theatre on Jan. 28 and 29, but he returned to the stage on Feb. 1, 2 and 3. He also made an appearance at a Las Vegas marijuana boutique on Feb. 1 to promote his new line of cannabis, Willie Nelson Reserve.
Willie has more than 25 performance dates scheduled in 2017. NCD will keep you posted on any updates. Get well soon, Willie.
by Lisa Konicki | @LisaKon127 | February 1, 2017
Willie Nelson To Release New Album “God’s Problem Child”
Just when you thought Willie Nelson would be slowing things down at the tender age of 83, think again. The octogenarian, who recently had to cancel two Las Vegas shows due to illness, is set to release a brand new album, God’s Problem Child, on April 28.
The new album consists of 13 new songs—seven of which are written by Willie and his longtime producer and friend, Buddy Cannon.
Not to exclude anyone’s listening preferences, Willie is making God’s Problem Child available on CD, 12″ vinyl or digitally— your choice. It’s no coincidence that the album will also be released the birthday (April 29), making the purchase of the album the perfect
birthday present for Willie. - A stand out track on the album is the comedic “Still Not Dead,” a new song that pokes fun at the many reports of Willie’s demise that he’s heard over the years. And not one to shy away from politics, Willie gives his take on the 2106 Presidential election and how to handle the aftermath in “Delete and FastForward.”
This is Willie’s ninth studio album since signing with his label, Legacy Recordings, in 2012 and has sold over 1 million albums for the label.
by Lisa Konicki | @LisaKon127 | November 10, 2016
Watch Willie Nelson’s Classic Performance of “Heartaches by the Number” on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”
The legendary country artists performed “Heartaches by the Number,” a song Ray recorded in 1959 that reached No. 2 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Singles chart.
by Jim Casey | @TheJimCasey | November 17, 2016
Willie Nelson Cancels Two Concerts Due to Illness
Willie Nelson, 83, was forced to cancel two scheduled performances over the last week due to an undisclosed illness.
Willie, who has toured perpetually over the course of his Hall of Fame career, cancelled shows in Midland, Texas, on Nov. 13 and in Lubbock, Texas, on Nov. 15. Willie’s next performance is slated for Nov. 18 in Lake Charles, La., and he still has more than a handful of dates on the schedule before the end of the year.
In September, Willie released his latest album, For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price. More recently, following the 50th annual CMA awards on Nov. 2, Willie stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live to spend some quality time with the late night talk show host and enjoy a cocktail while playing Three Ridiculous Questions.
Here’s hoping Willie gets well soon.
by Lisa Konicki | @LisaKon127 | July 21, 2016
Willie Nelson Is fired Up to Open New Marijuana Company, Willie's Reserve
Willie Nelson has reason to celebrate -his new cannabis company. Willie's Reserve, a premium marijuana brand, is launching and will soon be available in select Washington and Colorado stores.
«I always knew that marijuana would be legalized», Willie said in a statement. «I just never thought it would be in my lifetime».
The 70-year-old Country music legend will be celebrating the launch of of Willie's Reserve with his family on Saturday, July 23, with a concert held at Marymoor Park in Redmond, Wash., and another concert on Saturday, July 30, at Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre in Greenwood, Colo.
«I've smoked enough and I want to give back», Willie added. «Now that legalization is spreading across the country, there's a great opportunity to build a company that can help a lot of people. i hope it gives social justice to those who are incarcerated for doing what we're now doing legally. I am also committed to habe our crops farmed in an environmentally responsible way; to revitalize small farms and to grow it as clean as possible. So far, I've really enjoyed meeting with the best growers.
It's no secret that Willie is a fan of weed. He has been an outspoken advocate for cannabis legalization for decades. He announced the creation of Willie's Reserve back in 2015 and is tentatively scheduled to launch in Washington in July and Colorado in August. Smoke 'em if you got 'em. For more information on Willie's Reserve go here.
Rare video recording from 1962, believed lmed in Nashville for TV. Willie sings 'Hello Walls', 'Funny How Time Slips Away', 'Night Light', and 'Crazy'.
Willie Nelson’s guitar, “Trigger,” is in for repairs at Erlewine Guitars in Austin, Texas. Mark Erlewine shares a closeup look at the famous hole in the top. Mark’s been Trigger’s caretaker for ages, and he gives us the inside scoop on Trigger’s history.
An exclusive documentary on how the country icon changed music history with his beat-up Martin acoustic, 'Trigger'.
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Willie Nelson - Full Concert Recorded Live: 7/25/1999 - Woodstock 99 East Stage (Rome, NY)
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