Willie Nelson is the legendary country singer and songwriter who came into limelight and fame during the late 60s. Some of his most popular and career-defining songs include; Petty Paper, Cazzy Funny How Time Slips Away, and Hello Walls. His works were influential to the evolution of the outlaw country subgenre, which was used to confront the conservatism of Nashville.
Now, well over 80 years of age, he still strong and vibrant, constantly recording and touring as well as impacting lives through various political and charitable causes. He is one old champ that plans to quit only when he ceases to draw breath. Let’s know more about him through this article.
What is Willie Nelson Famous For?
- An American musician, actor, and activist.
Is Willie Nelson Native American?
Going back to his early life. Willie Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas to Doyle Nelson and Ira Myrle Marie. He did not have the upbringing of his parents since his mother left soon after he was born and his father also remarried leaving Willie and his sister Bonnie in the care of their grandparents.
He was taught music at a tender age and age six; his grandfather bought him a guitar. At this time, he sang at church and age seven wrote his first song. His love for music developed by day at a young age of nine, he was a guitarist for a local band Bohemian Polka. As a young child in the care of his grandparents, He picked cotton to earn some income even though he hated the act. To replace it, he took on music to raise such salaries.
For Education, He was educated at the Abbott High School, where he was very active in sports. He played on the football, basketball and baseball teams in the school. The like for games, however, did not affect his first love which is music. He sang in school and played the guitar for The Texans band formed by his sister’s husband. He also joined the United States Air Force for nine months after graduating from high school in 1950. Upon his return, he enrolled at Baylor University in 1954 where he studied agriculture. He, however, dropped out in 1956 to pursue music.
Willie Nelson’s Career Timeline
- After dropping out of school, Willie Nelson picked up jobs like a bouncer at a nightclub, saddle maker, a postman in an auto house and a tree trimmer. He with his wife moved to Pleasanton, Texas where he got a job as a disc jockey in KBOP though he had no experience in the field.
- As a DJ, he made his first two recordings The Storm Has Just Begun and When I’ve Sung My Last Hillbilly Song in 1955 with equipment at the station. These recordings were done on used tapes and sent to SARG Records which they rejected. He also hosted The Western Express working with KDNT, KCUL and KCNC and played at the nightclub.
- In search of better work, he moved to Portland, Oregon where his mother was living at the time.
- He finally reached his musical dreams when he got to Oregon by making his first recording No Place for Me in 1956. The recording was however not successful. He was hired by KVAN in Vancouver, Washington and appeared on television shows. He also worked as a radio announcer and sang in Vancouver clubs.
- He then moved to Springfield, Missouri where he worked as a dishwasher. He would later return to Texas, drop his music career to make door-to-door sales of Bibles and vacuum cleaners.
- He went through several other hustles without success until Liberty Records signed him in 1961 and started recording in August the same year at the Quonset Hut Studio. There, he released two singles, Willingly and Touch Me. Both songs became successful charting in the Top 10.
- His first album And Then I Wrote followed in September 1962. In 1964, he was signed by Momentum Records where he released just a single track; I Never Cared for You. The same year, he was signed by RCA Victor with a contract sum of US$10,000 per year.
- His success there begun in 1966 with making several hit tracks like One in a Row, The Party’s Over and Bring Me Sunshine which reached the Top 25 and became his best-selling records during his time with RCA Victor.
- He refused to renew his contract with RCA and with his new manager, Neil Reshen, negotiated a payout deal of $14,000 with RCA. Reshen later got him a $25,000 per year deal with Atlantic Records becoming the label’s first country music artist.
- His first recording there was Shotgun Willie in 1973 which was well-received, but little success was achieved commercially. His other albums include Red-Headed, Wanted! The Outlaws, The Sound in Your Mind, Trouble Maker, Waylon & Willie.
- Besides singing, He made an acting debut in 1979 with the film The Electric Horseman and had since featured in films like Honeysuckle Rose, Thief, Coming Out of the Ice, Wag the Dog and several others.
- Also, he has penned more than half a dozen books, and some of his most popular books are The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes, Pretty Paper, and It’s a Long Story: My Life.
- Also, He has been involved in several activities like the legalization of marijuana by joining the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. With his advocacy of the use of biofuels, Nelson, his wife in partnership with Bob and Kelly King built two Pacific Biodiesel plants in Salem, Oregon and Carl’s Corner, Texas.
- He has been advocating for the passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act for better treatment of horses. Nelson is also a strong supporter of the LBGT movement and has been involved in most of their activities.
Who is Willie Nelson Married To?
Willie Nelson married four times with the first being to Martha Mathews in 1952. The couple had three children, Lana, Susie, and Willie Hugh Jr. The marriage which was characterized by violence by Matthews always abusing Nelson ended in 1962. He then married Shirley Collie in 1963 and divorced in 1971.
The same year, he got married to Connie Koepke, the woman who had mothered his son Paula Carlene during his marriage to Collie. The couple had another daughter Amy Lee Nelson but divorced in 1988.
His last and current wife is Annie D’Angelo in 1991 and has since been blessed with two children, Lukas Autry, and Jacob Micah. The family lives in Maui, Hawaii and also owns a ranch near Austin, Texas.
Similarly, He has had several health issues including a lung collapse in 1981 while swimming in Hawaii. He has also undergone surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome in 2004, and stem-cell therapy and several others.
What is Willie Nelson Net Worth?
With a career spanning decades and an active performing career even at an old age, Wille Nelson is worthy of all the wealth he has amassed so far. As a highly creative, enthusiastic and energetic musician, he can be seen going on tours with his band now and then and this has sure aided to boost up his net worth which is currently estimated to be around $25 million. However, his salary and assets details are yet to be disclosed.
How Tall is Willie Nelson?
Willie Nelson has a height of 5 feet 6 inches and weighs around 72 Kg. Similarly, he has a pair of hazel eyes and light brown hair color. Further, his chest size is 39 inches, waist size is 30 inches and the biceps size is 14 inches.