Willie Nelson was born on April 30, 1933, in Abbott, Texas. Growing up in a small farm town, he and his sister were raised by their grandparents. By age four, Nelson was fascinated with music and sang at his local church. Soon he wrote his first song, which would lead to many other creative projects. Music was always an important part of Nelson's life, even as a young adult. After high school and a short stint in the Air Force, he began to work as a radio DJ. He listened to many songs in this job, and the experience helped to refine his skills as a songwriter. Today, fans admire Willie Nelson as a master songwriter and country music star.
In 1960, Nelson signed his first recording contract and moved to Nashville, TN. He was 27 years old. Two years later, the song "Willingly" became his first single to reach the charts. "Touch Me," his second single that year, reached #7 and was also popular. But Nelson faced a struggle over the next 13 years. He did not have any hit singles, and he felt frustrated with his record label. He moved back to Texas, got rid of his suits, and starting growing his hair long. At the same time, he began wearing jeans and his trademark bandana and developed the Willie Nelson style that fans love today. Returning to Texas was a pivotal change for Nelson, and it helped his career take off.
Nelson saw his move back to Texas, the Lone Star State, as a chance to change both his image and his music. In 1973, he released the album Shotgun Willie. With a more rock and folk music sound than any of his previous projects, Shotgun Willie did not sell well. But Nelson began to see a cult following of fans who loved his work. In 1975, he found commercial success with his concept album Red Headed Stranger. Fans loved Nelson's cover of "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," originally performed by Roy Acuff. With over 100 albums under his belt today, Willie Nelson is considered one of the greatest songwriters and country singers of all time.
Nelson began his acting career in 1979 when he starred in The Electric Horseman, a Robert Redford film. The following year, he worked on Honeysuckle Rose, a film that produced the hit song "On the Road Again," which became one of Nelson's trademark songs. Other movies include Barbarosa (1982), Songwriter (1984), Wag the Dog (1997) and The Dukes of Hazzard (2005). In addition to his movie roles and cameos, Nelson has appeared on multiple television shows.
A pop culture icon, country music fans everywhere recognize Willie Nelson's face and his trademark bandannas. Over the years, he has earned many awards and honors. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993, where he earned a bronze plaque that country music fans can admire for years to come. And in 2007, Ben and Jerry's honored Nelson by naming one of their ice cream flavors "Willie Nelson's Country Peach Cobbler."
At age 75, Willie Nelson is still singing and giving concerts. With his white beard, long pony tail, and bandanna, Willie Nelson is an icon of country music.