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Willie Nelson

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This versatile, eclectic, rather wanderlust country crossover star known for his classic ballads ("Always On My Mind"), autobiographical road songs ("On the Road Again") and catchy rhythms ("Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys") started out life as Willie Hugh Nelson on April 30, 1933, in Depression-era Abbot, Texas. He is the son of Myrle Marie (Greenhaw) and Ira Doyle Nelson, a mechanic. After his mother abandoned the family and his father died, he and sister Bobbie Lee were raised by their gospel-singing grandparents. Working in the cotton fields, Willie was handed his first guitar at age six and within a short time was writing woeful country songs and playing in polka bands. During his teenage years he played at high school dances and honky-tonks. He also worked for a local radio station and by graduation time he had become a DJ with his own radio show. Briefly serving a stint with the Air Force (discharged because of a bad back, which would plague him throughout his life), he sold his first song called "No Place For Me" while getting by with menial jobs as a janitor and door-to-door Bible salesman. Married in 1952 to a full-blooded Cherokee, he and first wife Martha had two children. He initially came to be known in Nashville for selling his songs to well-established country artists such as Patsy Cline ("Crazy"), Faron Young ("Hello Walls") and Ray Price ("Night Life"). In 1962 he recorded a successful duet with singer Shirley Collie, whom he would later take as his second wife, but his career didn't progress despite joining the Grand 'Ol Opry. In the early 1970s, after extensive touring with his band (which included sister Bobbie on the piano) and experiencing a number of career downswings, he started performing and recording his own songs instead of selling them to others. Two of his albums, "Shotgun Willie" and "Phases and Stages", helped him gain some stature. In 1975 it all came together with the album "Red-Headed Stranger", which would become the top-selling country music album in history and propel him into the country music stratosphere. His offbeat phrasing, distinctive nasal tones and leathery, bewhiskered hippie-styled looks set a new standard for "outlaw" country music. Around 1978 Willie showed himself to be a loose and natural presence in front of the camera, thus launching a film career. He had roles in several movies, his first opposite Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in The Electric Horseman. His took to leading roles as a country music star in Honeysuckle Rose, which would include a number of his songs on the soundtrack. He played opposite James Caan and Tuesday Weld in Thief and a legendary outlaw in the western Barbarosa. In the movie Red Headed Stranger, which was adapted from his hit 1975 album, he played a preacher, and he teamed up with pal Kris Kristofferson as a pair of country singers in Songwriter. He and pal Kristofferson went on to form The Highwaymen with the late Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings and he successfully recorded and toured with the group for a number of years. They also teamed up to remake the classic western Stagecoach as a TV movie (Stagecoach). As a unique song stylist, the bearded, braided-haired, bandanna-wearing non-conformist took a number of non-country standards and made them his own, including Elvis Presley's "You Were Always on My Mind" and Ray Charles' "Georgia on My Mind." He happily married fourth wife Ann-Marie in 1991 and has survived more hard times in recent years, including a $16.7-million debt to the IRS and the suicide of one of his sons, Billy. Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993, Nelson received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998.  See full bio on IMDb »

LATEST STORIES
  
Judge Crushes Plea Deal in Willie Nelson Pot Case

Judge Crushes Plea Deal
In Willie Nelson Pot Case

Willie Nelson once again faces a year in jail over marijuana possession charges -- this after the judge in the case REJECTED a plea deal in which the singer would have gotten off with a $500… READ MORE >

Willie Nelson -- $500 Fine In Marijuana Case

Willie Nelson
$500 Fine In Marijuana Case

Willie Nelson can breath easy again in Texas -- TMZ has learned the singer struck a plea deal in his marijuana case ... and will NOT have to do any hard time. Sources close to Willie tell us ...… READ MORE >

- 1820 days ago
Willie Nelson -- How I'm Spending My 4/20 ...

Willie Nelson
How I'm Spending My 4/20

4/20 is an unofficial holiday for pot-smokers across the globe ... but this year, Willie Nelson tells us he's making a MAJOR change to his celebration because of health issues. Don't worry, it's… READ MORE >

- 1868 days ago
Willie Nelson Pot Case -- Let Him Sing for His Freedom

Willie Nelson Pot Case
Let Him Sing for His Freedom

Willie Nelson​’s pot possession case could end on a high note -- because the singer may get off with little more than a small fine ... if he agrees to SING IN COURT.Nelson was charged… READ MORE >

- 1890 days ago
Willie Nelson's Lawyer -- Expert Weed Defender

Willie Nelson's Lawyer
Expert Weed Defender

They say marijuana affects your memory -- but Willie Nelson seems to remember the lawyer who got him off a weed charge 16 years ago ... because the singer just hired him for his new pot… READ MORE >

- 2001 days ago
Snoop -- Who the Heck Would Arrest Willie Nelson?

Snoop
Who the Heck Would Arrest Willie Nelson?

Snoop Dogg was fired up Saturday night when we asked him what he thought about Willie Nelson​ getting arrested on marijuana charges. Warning: We used "heck" in the headline, but Snoop used a… READ MORE >

- 2003 days ago
Celebrity Shnozzes -- Is Bigger Better?

Celebrity Shnozzes
Is Bigger Better?

We did a little rhinoplasty on some of the biggest names in Hollywood -- but sometimes the original is best. Click through the pics and decide -- work ... or no work? READ MORE >

- 2005 days ago
Willie Nelson Charged With Pot Possession

Willie Nelson
Charged With Pot Possession

Willie Nelson has been charged with the unthinkable -- misdemeanor marijuana possession ... TMZ has learned. Nelson was busted last week after cops found pot on the singer's tour bus at a border… READ MORE >

- 2005 days ago
TMZ Live: Oksana, Willie Nelson, and Leslie Nielsen

TMZ Live:
Oksana, Willie Nelson, and Leslie Nielsen

We took your questions on everything today -- including Oksana Grigorieva's emails to Mel Gibson, Willie Nelson busted for weed, and Leslie Nielsen's death.Plus: James Franco and Anne Hathaway… READ MORE >

- 2010 days ago
Willie Nelson's Mug Shot

Willie Nelson's
Mug Shot

TMZ has obtained Willie Nelson's mug shot, taken the day he was arrested in Texas for marijuana possession.Clearly he's had better days. READ MORE >

- 2010 days ago

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