Legends of Country: Willie Nelson (Country Weekly, 20th anniversary) (Dec. 2014)


Legends of Country
Country Weekly: 20th Anniversary
December 2014

Willie Nelson has been known for many things. He is an activist for animals and marijuana legalization, owner of the eco-friendly fuel Willie Nelson Biodiesel, honorary chairman of the Advisory Board of the Texas Music Project, the co-founder of the agricultural benefit concert Farm Aid and the proud holder of a fifth-degree black belt. Oh, and lest we forget, a country music legend and outlaw.

Willie was born during the Great Depression back in 1933 in Abbott, Texas. Raised by his grandparents, young Willie penned his first song at the age of 7 and joined his first band when he was 10. he toured locally throughout high school, putting a majority of his focus into music. After a brief stint in the Air Force in 1950. Willie attended Baylor University for two years, before dropping out to perform and write full time. During that period, he wrote songs that would go on to become country standards, such as “:Funny How Time Slips Away.” “Hello Walls,” “Pretty Paper” and “Crazy.”

He eventually packed up his belongings and moved to Nashville in 1960, later signing a publishing deal with Pamper Music, allowing him to join Ray Price’s band as a bassist.  Willie recorded his full-length album….And Then I Wrote, two years later, and the success landed him a record deal with RCA Victor in 1964.

From there, Willie Nelson was on a steady climb to becoming one of the greatest country stars of all time.  He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, charted countless hit singles, including, “On the Road Again,” “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” and “Pancho and Lefty,” and joined forces with Waylon Jennings for several side projects and collaborations.  Continuing his run and relationship with Waylon, the two teamed up with Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson to form The Highwaymen.

Of course with a little bit of fame comes a little bit of backlash.  Willie’s assets were seized by the IRS in 1990 for nonpayment of taxes and he’s had his run-ins with the law due to possession of marijuana.  You may not always agree with Willie Nelson’s unapologetic lifestyle, but it’s pretty harad to deny that the Red Headed Stranger is a bona fide musical legend.


Leave a Reply