Willie Nelson

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Nelson, Willie,

1933–, American country singer, guitarist, and songwriter, b. Abbott, Tex. Nelson began playing professionally at 10 and joined a western swing band as a teenager. In the 1960s he moved to Nashville, where he became a successful songwriter, composing such tunes as "Funny How Time Slips Away" and the Patsy ClineCline, Patsy,
1932–63, American country singer, b. Winchester, Va., as Virginia Patterson Hensley. She began singing locally while still in her teens and signed her first recording contract in 1953, but did not become well known until after the release of her first hit,
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 hit "Crazy." Nelson returned to Texas in the 1970s and during that decade came into his own as a performer, creating the blues-rock-country hybrid known as "outlaw music" and becoming enormously popular. He achieved great success with the albums Shotgun Willie (1973) and Red Headed Stranger (1975) (containing the hit "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain") and also began performing widely in concert tours, singing for a country-crossover audience. Among his later albums are Wanted: The Outlaws (1976), Stardust (1978), City of New Orleans (1984), The Promised Land (1986), Across the Borderline (1993), Teatro (1998), and the comprehensive collection One Hell of a Ride (2008). Nelson had federal tax problems in the 1980s, but they were resolved by the 1990s, in part with revenues from The IRS Tapes (1991). He has performed in a number of films, including The Electric Horseman (1979), Honeysuckle Rose (1980), and Wag the Dog (1998), and is well known for sponsoring Farm Aid concerts.


See biography by J. N. Patoski (2008).

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Nelson, Willie (Hugh)

(1933–  ) country music singer, songwriter; born in Fort Worth, Texas. Before he was a teenager he sang gospel in a Baptist church and played guitar in polka bands, but he also absorbed both pop and jazz music. Writing songs in Nashville in the 1960s, he helped the country music revival, but he did not get much recognition for his own singing. He relocated to Austin, Texas, and also reconstructed his image, adopting his trademark beard, headband, earring, and blue jeans. At first he won over a largely youthful audience, especially with his annual "picnics," like mini-Woodstocks, but gradually he broadened his appeal to an adult public. A widely popular, eclectic performer, he recorded jazz standards, country-rock, and gospel in his distinctive singing style, with its bluesy, off-beat phrasing. In the late 1980s he was briefly in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service for falling behind in his taxes, but he resolved that problem and resumed his role as something of a national country-music icon, in part because of his generous appearances at benefit concerts.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Willie Nelson's fans love him for the honest and conversational tone of his music.
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It would be hard to find an American adult who doesn't know who Willie Nelson is, but he was active behind the scenes for more than 20 years before becoming a star.
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Upon hearing this, Willie Nelson and the entire city of Amsterdam breathed a smoky sigh of relief.
Compiling interviews with people drawn from all walks of Texas life, Texas In Her Own Words includes commentary and observations from stars such as Willie Nelson, Darrell Royal, and Liz Carpenter; a wealth of fun and interesting facts of the great state; illustrative pictures vividly capturing the pride of many Texans; the origin of the Texas image and attitude; and discussion points for diehard Texans or book groups study the history and culture of the Lone Star State.
Willie Nelson's cover of "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)" [Big Gay Following, March 28] contains, among other offensive lines, this gem: "Inside every cowboy there's a lady who'd love to slip out." One of the points that the film makes is that most of us are not effeminate, nor do we have any desire to be women.
What do Willie Nelson and the trucking industry have in common?