American country music star Willie Nelson has been making music for over 6 decades and now in his eighties, Nelson seems to show no signs of slowing down from touring across the country. Besides singing and writing songs, Willie Nelson is also an activist, actor and poet.
Like every other artist in the industry, Nelson has had his fair share of ups and downs, but he has managed to overcome them all and stay on his feet. Follow us to learn more about this pioneer of the outlaw country.
Willie Nelson Bio/Wiki
Willie Hugh Nelson was born on April 29, 1933 in Abbott, Texas to parents Ira Doyle Nelson and Myrle Marie (née Greenhaw). Born during the Great Depression, Willie and his older sister Bonnie were raised by their grandparents after their mother left and their father also moved away from Abbott.
As a child, Willie along with his grandparents attended the Methodist Church where he had his very first exposure to singing music in the church choir. Willie showed so much passion for music that his grandfather bought him a guitar when he was 6 years old. At age 7, Willie started writing his own songs.
As Willie got older, he became more immersed in music and started playing locally. In 1950 he graduated from Abbott High School where he played football. After high school he enlisted in the US Air Force, however, his stint was short-lived as he was honorably discharged due to a back injury.
Uncertain about his future, Willie enrolled at Baylor University to study agriculture, while continuing to pursue his musical interests. He soon began playing as a disc jockey and later honed his songwriting skills, which landed him a job at Pamper Music of Nashville for a salary of $50 a week.
Soon the songs Willie wrote for other artists became huge hits including; Crazy by Patsy Cline, Night Life by Ray Price and more. On the other hand, Nelson’s own music struggled to find success compared to those he wrote for the people, this was partly due to his outlaw country sound which he refused to change despite suggestions from music executives.
Years passed and in 1975 Nelson’s music began to gain traction. He landed his first Grammy that same year for “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
In addition to music, Willie Nelson has appeared in over 30 films and co-authored a number of books.
Spouse of Willie Nelson – Annie D’Angelo
Nelson had a lot of problems in his personal life especially when it comes to his relationship with women, however, at the fourth marriage try, Nelson seemed to have found what he wanted with Annie D’Angelo, his fourth wife and his current wife.
Willie and Annie married in September 1991 in Nashville, Tennessee and have since remained married.
Annie who was then working as a make-up artist for films met Nelson when she was brought in to work in the make-up department for the 1986 film Stagecoach and as fate would have it, Nelson was among the cast in that film.
Despite the 21-year age difference between them (Annie was born in 1956), the two were drawn to each other and eventually made it down the aisle. Years have passed and there has been no news of divorce or tension between the two. In 2016, they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.
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Annie has undoubtedly had a positive influence on Nelson as the country star has had few run-ins with the law since marrying his fourth wife. The couple are fathers of two named sons; Lucas Autry and Jacob Micah. Lukas has since followed in his father’s footsteps. He is the lead vocalist/guitarist of California rock band Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real aka POTR. Lukas often sports his father’s signature look of wearing a bandana on his head.
Nelson and his wife Annie live in a sustainable, solar-powered community on a Hawaiian island called Maui.
Having been married four times in his life, Willie Nelson has a large family. His first marriage to Martha Matthews produced three children; Lana, Susie and Willie “Billy” Hugh, Jr.
The latter, son Billy, hanged himself in 1991. Willie was married to Martha from 1952 to 1962. The marriage was marred by domestic violence. Martha tied Willie up and whipped him with a broom.
Within a year of finalizing his divorce from his abusive wife, Nelson went on to marry Shirley Collie. The marriage produced no children and ended in 1971 when Shirley divorced Nelson after she discovered that Nelson had cheated on her by fathering a love child with Connie Koepke.
This child, a girl named Paula Nelson was born on October 27, 1969 in Houston, Texas. Nelson would then marry Connie Koepke still in 1971 and together they had a second child, daughter Amy Lee Nelson. About 17 years later, Nelson and Connie divorced.
Nelson in his autobiography “Roll Me Up And SmokeMe When I Die”, published in December 2012, revealed that he had a secret family. He recounted that he had recently reunited with an old lover Mary Harney only to find that he had fathered a child with her named Renee. He added that Renne was now a grandmother, making him a great-grandfather.
Adding all his problems from all relationships, Willie Nelson has 7 children.
Wille Nelson was gravely the victim of a death hoax due to his poor health. On several occasions in the later years of his career, Willie had to cancel shows due to health issues, most of which still involved his lungs. In some extreme cases, he was removed from the stage while performing.
Many tabloids are often quick to find rumors of his death after such incidents. The latest, as of this writing, happened in early 2018 when Willie was performing at Harrah’s Resort in SoCal. Halfway through his first song of the night which was ‘Whiskey River’, Willie seemed to be struggling to breathe and was taken off stage. His rep released a statement saying he had a bad cold but was recovering at home.
Upcoming tour dates have been canceled and rescheduled for later in February.
In response to pranks about him, in April 2017 Willie released a song called Still Not Dead from his album God’s Problem Child. Part of the song says; “I woke up still not dead today.”
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Although Willie Nelson is “still not dead”, it is very likely that he will die doing what he loves most – performing in front of a crowd.
He is 1.68m (5ft 6in) tall