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 to a full-blooded Cherokee, he and first wife Martha had two children. In 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 s, 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 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.
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In a career that has encompassed performing, songwriting, acting and activism, there are so many highlights to consider when looking back at Willie Nelson 's life. Here are 25 of our favorite things you might not know about the American icon. Because he was born close to midnight, some sources list Nelson's birth date as April Nelson was raised by his grandparents, Alfred and Nancy Nelson, who both studied music courses through the mail from the Chicago Music Institute.
During the early '70s, Willie aligned himself with Waylon Jennings and the burgeoning outlaw country movement that finally made him a star by Following the crossover success of that year's Red Headed Stranger and "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," Nelson became a genuine success, as recognizable in pop circles as he was to the country audience; in addition to recording, he also launched an acting career in the early '80s. Even when he was a star, Nelson never played it safe musically. During the '90s and into the s, Nelson 's sales never reached the heights that he had experienced earlier, but he remained a vital figure in country music, having greatly influenced the new country, new traditionalist, and alternative country movements of the '80s and '90s that continued to thrive in the 21st century. Beyond his music, Nelson was an icon in pop culture, an outlaw beloved by fans who otherwise had little time for country music. Nelson began performing music as a child growing up in Abbott, Texas.
Willie Hugh Nelson born April 29, is an American musician, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized artists in country music. He was one of the main figures of outlaw country , a subgenre of country music that developed in the late s 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.