He was born just after midnight to Myrle Marie Greenhaw and Ira Nelson. Soon after Nelson’s birth, his parents would go their separate ways and leave little Nelson to be raised, along with his sister Bobbie, by his grandparents. Nelson’s grandparents were musicians themselves, and encouraged the children to learn an instrument. Nelson’s grandfather bought him his first guitar when he was six years old, and taught him the basics; his sister learned how to sing, and together they played gospel songs in their community church.
By the age of seven, he had written his first song, and, by age nine, he was playing guitar in a local band. Instead of following along with the family and picking cotton for cash in the summers, Nelson started to sing in taverns and dance halls – he continued this through out high school.
Willie Nelson’s life has been filled with unbelievably remarkable achievements. He has touched the world with his music for decades, from the release of Shotgun Willie in 1973, to Stardust in 1978. He was a pioneer in the outlaw country scene, a sub-genre of country music initiated at the end of the 1960s as a rejoinder to the Nashville sound and it’s conservative restrictions.
Nelson is not only a musician. He is a songwriter, author, actor, poet, and activist. It was Nelson who wrote Patsy Cline’s famous song ‘Crazy’. Nelson has also acted in over 30 films, is a major liberal activist, and is the co-chair of the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which is in favour of marijuana legalization.
On the environmental side, Nelson owns the bio-diesel brand Willie Nelson Biodiesel, which produces fuel from vegetable oil. Nelson is also the honorary chairman of the advisory board of the Texas Music Project, the official music charity of the state of Texas. In 1985, Nelson joined Neil Young and John Mellencamp to set up Farm Aid to help bring awareness to the significance of family farming and it’s effect on America’s economy. He is not only responsible for organizing and performing at these annual events, he is also the president of the board for Farm Aid.
Nelson has been married four times, has fathered seven children, and is currently living in Maui, Hawaii, in his solar-powered home with his present wife Annie D’Angelo.