The Musical Journey: An Outlaw Country Icon
Willie Nelson is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in country music history. Born in 1933 in Abbott, Texas, Nelson grew up during the Great Depression and started writing songs and playing guitar as a child. After serving in the Air Force, Nelson moved to Nashville in 1960 to pursue a career in music.
Early on, Nelson struggled to find success, writing songs that were rejected by music row publishers. However, in the early 1970s, Nelson helped pioneer the “outlaw country” subgenre, bringing a rougher, more rock-influenced sound to country. Albums like Shotgun Willie (1973), Phases and Stages (1974), and the massively successful Red Headed Stranger (1975) established Nelson as a singular voice in country music.
Throughout his long career, Willie Nelson has released over 100 albums and won countless awards, including multiple Grammys, ACM Awards, and CMA Awards. Some of his most iconic songs include “On the Road Again,” “Always on My Mind,” “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and “Whiskey River.” He is known for his unique phrasing, distinctive voice, and skillful guitar playing.
Nelson has collaborated with artists across genres, from Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson in the outlaw country movement, to more pop-oriented duets with artists like Julio Iglesias (“To All the Girls I Loved Before”). He co-founded the country supergroup The Highwaymen with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson in the 1980s.
Never one to stand still creatively, Nelson continues to tour and record new music into his 80s. His latest album, First Rose of Spring, was released in 2020. Nelson has won almost every major award in country music, including induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Through his iconic songs and progressive approach to country, Willie Nelson has cemented his legacy as a true American music legend.