Willie Nelson Biography
In this Willie Nelson biography, learn about the career of Willie Nelson and why he came to be known as a man who was a great survivor.
Willie Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas in 1933. First signs of his ability as an entertainer came in the form of a public performance at the age of four. He acquired his first guitar at the age of six, and at age ten had made his first musical performance as part of a Polka band.
After his teenage years playing ‘honky-tonk’ music with the likes of Bud Fletcher he had a brief spell in the US Air force and as a radio deejay. In 1961 he moved to Nashville and it was there that he recorded his first number 1, Faro Young’s version of ‘Hello Walls’, and begin his quest of becoming a great American Country singer. Other hits in the ‘60’s included ‘Crazy’ (Patsy cline) and ‘Nightlife’ (Ray Price). Willie Nelson’s image that was moulded in part by the music industry did not appeal greatly to the mainstream audience, and in 1970 he returned to his homeland, Texas to offer his unique country music style with it’s nasal twang to those people.
It is in the country music genre that Willie Nelson found a great deal of success in the ‘70’s, which saw his best two album sales ‘Shotgun Willie’ and ‘Phases And Stages’ recorded by Atlantic Records. The ‘70’s also included his debut album for Columbia ‘Red Headed Stranger’ and the album ‘Stardust’ that spent more than a decade in the country charts with its pop style songs.
Of note in the 80’s was Willie Nelson's co-founding Farm Aid, a charity concert aimed at helping American farmers in need, and his continued success as an American Country singer.
The ‘90’s saw Willie Nelson at his creative best with albums such as ‘Spirit’, which draws on all of his American influences – Country music, Gospel and Pop.
All throughout his career Willie Nelson showed great determination and proved himself to be not only one of the finest American Country singers, but also a great survivor. He has constantly reinvented his style of music, and some would say even redefined the boundaries of Country Music. He willingly gave a 100% in every type of music he played stretching from honky-tonk to ‘Tin Pan Alley’. His ability to bounce back from bad marketing by the music industry in the ‘60’s highlight this. In the ‘90’s he had to recover from being back taxed by the IRS, being involved in a cannabis bust, and several personal problems. He was still able to produce works, both solo and as part of a band of stunning originality, including work on a Reggae album. It is perhaps the ability of Willie Nelson to associate with the day-to-day survival of normal people that made him so durable.
Willie Nelson will always be a great American Country singer, but more importantly a man of the people, a true survivor.