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Willie Nelson's Piano-Playing 'Sister Bobbie' Passes at 91

Bobbie Nelson, Willie Nelson's older piano-playing sister, passed away on March 10. She celebrated her 91st birthday on New Year's Day. Nelson performed as "Sister Bobbie" in her brother's group since the 1970s. 

Watch friends and family pay tribute to Bobbie Nelson in the video above.

Unlike Willie, Bobbie was not a major pot smoker. In 2017, she said:

“I think he smokes too much, but that’s just because I’m worried about his health.” 

Willie, who will turn 89 on April 29, has had breathing problems in the past that knocked him off tour pre-Covid, but remains coy about his use, joking in 2019:

"I'm not smoking any more, but I'm not smoking any less either."

Willie Nelson and "Sister Bobbie" Nelson

In 2006, Louisiana troopers raided Nelson's tour bus, securing more than 1.5 pounds of pot and three ounces of magic mushrooms. Both Nelsons and the tour manager were arrested, but only Willie received six-months' probation. She recalled about the incident:

“All I knew was that if Willie was going to jail, they’d have to take me to jail, too."

Bobbie, who had a heart condtion and a Pacemaker, said about Willie's smoked-out bus:

“Sometimes I need a break.” 

In the 2020 book, Me and Sister Bobbie, she says, as reported by Tokin Woman: "I'd watched Willie switch out liquor for pot and was impressed by the difference. I hated whiskey for all the misery it caused people in my life. Pot caused no misery. Pot took off the edge and made Willie mellow.

"I started taking a few hits myself. I liked the effect. When it came to pot smoking, I could never match Willie - literally no one can - but I did experience the benefits. Anxiety softened. Anger erased. Music was made to sound even more haunting. As a high-strung person, I found pot to be a relaxant. And even in these psychedelic-centric venues we played, with the hippies tripping on LSD and the hillbillies buzzed on beer, I was never nervous. Willie found a cool that calmed down the scene while still exciting the crowd with his own brand of music."

Born on January 1, 1931 in Abbott, Texas, Bobbie Nelson married when she was just 16 and divorced in 1955. She's survived by her son Freddy and granddaughter Ellee.

 

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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.