Willie Nelson is a national hero, through and through. His music has been the inspiration for generations and will continue to inspire generations to come. He is recognized for his great country voice and hits like Always On My Mind, Nothing I Can Do About It Now, Whiskey River, On the Road Again and many more. Apart from singing he has also appeared in more than 30 movies as well.
From being broke to smoking a joint on the roof of the White House, the 85-year-old has done it all. To rejoice and celebrate the incredible life story of Willie, we bring you some amazing things about the Red Headed Stranger.
#6. Booger Red
People do all sorts of stuff when they are nervous and young Willie did something which earned him a nickname that would stick with him for eternity. In his memoir, Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die, he wrote about the incident when he got his nickname “booger red.”
I started to recite a poem my grandmother taught me,” Willie wrote, “but I have been picking my nose, which now starts to bleed. I hold my nose with one finger and while blood runs all over my little white sailor suit I recite my poem.
#5. Risked His Life
On December 24, 1969, Willie’s Tennessee farm, Ridgetop, got burned down. No one got hurt but Willie dived back into the burning ruins for his guitar case. He said, “I went in through the back door and headed for my guitar case.” Inside that guitar case were two things that made Nelson complete, his guitar “Trigger” and a two pound bag full of what we think is Colombian Tea. One thing for sure it had a product from Colombia.
#4. Issue with IRS
Back in 1990, all the assets that Willie owned was seized by the IRS for tax fraud. IRS claimed that he owed $32 million because of his unpaid taxes and illegal investments in tax shelters. Later his attorney negotiated the sum and brought it down to $16 million. This sum was again renegotiated to $6 million on cash.
Willie paid the money but he didn’t obey their agreement for which all of his assets were seized except his Trigger. All of his properties were auctioned, which were purchased by his friends and returned to him as a gift. Later he made a deal with IRS that all the profits made from his album The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? will be used to pay his debt.
#3. Loves his Trigger
Willie has been playing the same old guitar more than 40 years now, and he is not changing it any time soon. In the early 90s when the IRS was on his back for tax fraud and seized all of his properties, Trigger was the only thing that he hid from the government.
After a drunk man stepped on it and broke his Baldwin completely at a concert in Helotes, Texas, he sent it for repair to Shot Jackson in Nashville. After seeing the unrepairable condition of that guitar, Shot offered him a Martin N-20 nylon-stringed guitar. Willie advised him to take the pickups out of it and recut the bridge on that N-20. Willie bought that guitar for $750 dollar and named it after Trigger, Roy Rogers' famous horse. Trigger has been with Willie for more than 10,000 shows. Willie said in an interview,
Every guitar has its own feel and sound. The Trigger replicas are nice guitars, but anyone who has played this guitar can tell you immediately that there’s a different feel.
#2. Shotgun Willie
Shotgun Willie is one of the most famous songs, a nickname and a best selling T-shirt of Willie Nelson. He got this nickname after a shootout which occurred when he heard that his son-in-law, Steve was beating his daughter Lana. Willie said,
I ran for my truck and drove to the place where Steve and Lana lived and slapped Steve around. He really pissed me off. I told him if he ever laid a hand on Lana again, I would come back and drown his ass. No sooner did I get back to Ridgetop than here came Steve in his car, shooting at the house with a .22 rifle. I was standing at the door of the barn and a bullet tore up the wood two feet from my head. I grabbed an M-1 rifle and shot at Steve’s car. Steve made one pass and took off.
After the incident when his daughter said that he had taken their son Nelson Ray and was trying to get rid of Steve, he went to Ridgetop to wait for Steve. Willie remembers,
Thinking Steve would come to Ridgetop to pick me off about dusk, I hid in the truck so he couldn’t tell if I was home. We laid a trap for him. I had my M-1 and a shotgun. He drove by the house, and I ran out of the garage door. Steve saw me and took off. That’s when I shot his car and shot out his tire. Steve called the cops on me. Instead of explaining the whole damn mess, the beatings and the semi-kidnapping and shooting and all, I told the officers he must have run over the bullet. The police didn’t want to get involved in hillbilly family fights. They wrote down what I told them on their report and took off.
#1. Wasn’t always a pothead
Willie is best known for two things, singing and smoking a lot of doobies. But Willie’s love for marijuana is not as old as his passion for music. In his early days, he was a heavy drinker and a smoker, who would puff up to 3 packs of cigarettes a day. His cigarette smoking habit came to an end in 1981, when his lungs collapsed. He shared,
I was killing myself with cigarettes, and I knew I was really putting myself in danger with drinking so much, so somewhere along the way I decided, ‘Wait a minute! You know, do what you can do.
And the man fell in love with grass and the rest is you know, history.
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