Willie Nelson

From ArticleWorld

Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer and songwriter who was known for his outlaw country style and his image of a marijuana smoking hippie.

Early Life

Nelson was born on April 30,1933 in Abbott, Texas. He and his sister were raised by their grandparents after their father died and their mother ran off. Willie grew up playing the guitar while his best friend, Ross Cleveland, played the piano. After he graduated high School, Nelson spent some time in the Air Force, but left because of back problems. He moved to Fort Worth, Texas where he sang at honky tonk bars and was a DJ at a local radio station.

Early Music

In 1956, Wilson recorded his first single, "Luberjack." It did not establish a career for him, and when he moved to Nashville, Tennessee he could not land a contract. He began touring with Ray Price as the bands bassist. While touring with them many of his published songs were recorded by various artists and became number one hits, such as "Hello Walls," "Pretty Paper," and "Crazy."

Liberty Records signed Nelson in 1961, but after the release of several singles his career came to a stop. During this time he was going through many personal struggles. He could not keep a job, had problems with alcoholism, and got in trouble by both his wife and the law for carrying guns. Solution: Nelson moved to Austin, Texas to retire. He got caught up in Austin’s hippie scene and returned to his music, bringing the hippie background with him. His style changed and he began playing his own brand of country.

Willie the Outlaw

Nelson signed with Atlantic Records in 1973 and produced Shotgun Willie and Phases and Stages. He moved to Columbia Records, where he finally was allowed complete control over his music. Nelson teamed up with Waylon Jennings to release Red Headed Stranger. They continued to work together and released country music’s first platinum album: Wanted: The Outlaws! They pioneered the genre of outlaw country (coined "outlaw" because their music didn’t conform to Nashville standards).

Nelson continued to release top charting songs like "Good Hearted Woman," "If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time," "Remember Me," "Whiskey River," and his signature "Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys."

The 1980’s saw Nelson sing his way into even bigger fame with hits like "Always on my Mind" "On The Road Again," "To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before" and the album Poncho and Lefty with Merle Haggard. He joined Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash to form The Highwaymen.