75 Things You Need to Know About Willie Nelson on His 91st Birthday

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On his 91st birthday, here are 75 things you need to know about Willie Nelson.

1. He born was in Abbott, Texas on Apr. 29, 1933.

2. Because he was born close to midnight, his birth date is often cited as April 30.

3. His middle name is Hugh.

4. His parents were named Myrle Marie and Ira Doyle Nelson.

5. He and his sister Bobbie were raised by their grandparents, Alfred and Nancy Nelson.

6. He excelled in sports at Abbott High School.

7. He got his start performing with Western swing pioneer Bob Wills at just 13 years of age.

8. He served nine months in the U.S. Air Force before being medically discharged due to a back injury.

9. He studied farming at Baylor University in Waco, but dropped out.

9. Before embarking on a full-time career in music, he held odd jobs like cotton picker, saddle maker, and Bible, vacuum cleaner and encyclopedia salesman.

10. He also worked as a radio DJ.

11. He played bass in a band called Cherokee Cowboys.

11. "Crazy," written by Nelson, was a No. 9 hit for Patsy Cline in 1961.

12. His first album was released in 1962 on the Libery label. It includes "Crazy.

13. His acoustic guitar, a 1969 Martin N-20, is named Trigger after Roy Rogers' horse.

14. He almost always opens his live shows with "Whiskey River."

Willie Nelson in the ’60s

15. Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic has taken place in Texas since 1973.

16. His first Grammy win was for "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" in 1975.

17. He's known as the Red Headed Stranger, both an album (1975) and a movie (1986).

18. He famously smoked a joint on the roof of the White House with Pres. Jimmy Carter's son Chip in 1978.

19. His 1978 album of standards, Stardust, stayed on the charts for two years.

20. In 1980, a fire burned down his house in Nashville.

21. After his lung collapsed in 1981, he stopped smoking cigarettes and drinking.

22. Peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in 1982, Always on My Mind is his highest-charting album ever.

23. He's had three songs cross over into the Top 40: "Always on My Mind" (No. 5, 1982), "On the Road Again" (No. 20, 1980) and "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" (No. 21, 1975). 

24He founded Farm Aid in 1985.

25. He wrote a song (1985) and a book (2022) about band drummer Paul English, both called Me and Paul.

26. He's written several autobiographies, starting with Willie in 1988.

27. From 1985-1995 he recorded with Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash as The Highwaymen

28. He's had six children with four wives - Martha Matthews, Shirley Collie, Connie Kopeke and Annie D'Angelo. 

29. His children are: Lana, Susie, Willie Jr., Paula, Amy, Lukas and Micah.

30. Willie Nelson Jr. committed suicide in 1991.

31. In 1993, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

32. When he ran into trouble with the IRS in the early '90s, Sony released The IRS Tapes: Who'll Buy My Memories?

33. Since 1963, he's released more than 100 studio albums.

34. He's had 13 No. 1 country albums.

35. He's won 12 Grammy awards and has been nominated 56 times.

36. He's appeared in more than 40 movies, including The Electric Horseman and Honeysuckle Rose.

37. He was dubbed the "Historian Smoker" in Half Baked in 1998.

38. A live version of "Me and Paul" appears on Hempilation 2: Freedom Is NORML (1998).

39. He's the subject of Joe Nick Patoski's excellent bio, Willie Nelson: An Epic Life (1998).

40. In 2005, his album of reggae songs, Countryman, was released. The cover has a big pot leaf on it.

41. At the end of Beerfest (2006), he smokes a joint in Amsterdam.

42. He's pals with Snoop DoggThey recorded the song, "My Medicine," in 2008 and are featured in 2023 BIC EZ Reach lighter ad campaign with Martha Stewart.

43. He founded the Teapot Party with CelebStoner's Steve Bloom after getting arrested for pot in Texas in 2010.

44.  He's been arrested four times for marijuana possession. HIs first one was in 1974.

Willie Nelson’s 1974 mug shot

45. In 2006, he and Bobbie were charged with possession of 1.5 pounds of pot and three ounces of psychedelic mushrooms after a tour bus search.

46. He regularly performs "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me (Before I Die)," recorded in 2012.

Willie Nelson smoking on his tour bus.

47. He told CelebStoner in 2014: "Let's tax it and regulate it, like we do with everything else and make some money off this."

48. His daughter Paula was arrested for marijuana in Texas in 2014.

49. The braids he gave to Waylon Jennings were auctioned for $37,000 in 2014.

50. He launched his flagship cannabis brand Willie's Reserve in 2015.

51. He and Merle Haggard recorded the duet, "It's All Going to Pot." in 2015.

52. In 2015, he had a stem-cell procedure to help his lungs.

53. He established the Outlaw Music Festival in 2016.

54. He's featured on Toby Keith's 2017 high tune, "Wacky Tobacco."

55. He canceled concerts in 2018 and 2019 because of breathing issues.

59. He launched the hemp line, Willie's Remedy, in 2019.

60. He's featured in the 2020 documentary, Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President.

In 2014, Nelson said: "Let's tax it and regulate it, like we do with everything else and make some money off this."

61. There's a chapter called "Dear Cannabis" in his 2021 book, Willie Nelson's Letters to America

62. He did a Super Bowl ad called "Pass the Sketchersin 2022.

63. Bobbie Nelson, who played piano in the Family Band, died in 2022 at 91.

64. Paula, Amy, Lukas and Micah are musicians like their dad. The latter two play in the Family Band.

65. He's a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songswriters Hall of Fame.

66. Nelson likes to play poker and dominoes, and is into martial arts. 

67. He's been diagnosed with emphysema.

68. He has a ranch in Spicewood, Texas and a house on Maui.

69. He once offered Sheryl Crow's father a hit on a joint. Wendell Crow declined.

70. His net worth is $25 million.

71. He's a member of NORML's advisory board.

72. He's appeared on the cover of High Times four times.

73. After years of smoking, he prefers edibles now.

74. He's nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

75. He was feted last Apr. 29-30 in Los Angeles at Hollywood Bowl with back-to-back Willie Nelson 90 tribute concerts.


Sources: CelebStoner, Wikipedia, The Boot, Country Thang Daily


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.