12 Things You Didn’t Know About Willie Nelson

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Willie Nelson is one of the most widely known and recognized country singers in the industry. He’s recorded over 200 albums, appeared in over 30 films, co-authored several books and is now also an entrepreneur. His most critically success albums are Shotgun Willie, Red Headed Stranger and Stardust, but he’s also penned songs for huge artists like Patsy Cline, Ray Price and Billy Walker. The outlaw country singer is now into his mid-80s and is still going strong as an artist. He’s lived an interesting life, so here’s 12 things you probably didn’t now about Willie Nelson!

12. Childhood

Born in 1933, Willie Nelson grew up during the Depression in the small town of Abbott, Texas. He was raised by his grandparents, Alfred and Nancy, because his mother, Myrle left six months after he was born to work as a dancer, waitress and card-dealer. Nancy picked cotton for a living and gave piano lessons while Alfred worked as a blacksmith. Both his encouraged an interest in music in Nelson and his sister Bobbie. “I can remember them sitting round the table at night beneath a kerosene lamp, studying their music. I learned a lot before I ever left the house,” he said.

Photograph: From the collection of Willie Nelson


11. Natural Musical Talent

His grandfather gave him his first guitar when he was 5 and began writing poems around the same time. “I started writing some melodies and it seemed pretty natural. The first one, I was about five or six years old and I did this poem in church. ‘What are you looking at me for/I ain’t got nothing to say/If you don’t like the looks of me/You can look some other way,'” he said. He began playing with a local polka band when he was about 10 years old and started making 8 to 10 dollars a night.