Willie Nelson

Induction Year: 1973

Birth Name: Willie Hugh Nelson

Birth Date: 04-30-1933

Place of Birth: Abbott, Texas

Willie Nelson's epic career spans seven decades, and includes hundreds of original songs (including standards like "Crazy" and "Funny How Time Slips Away"), 300 albums, many Top 40 hits, movies, numerous awards and a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Nelson was born in east Texas during the Great Depression. After his father died, and his mother took off, Willie and his older sister were raised by their paternal grandparents, who encouraged the kids to learn music. Willie took up guitar at six and was writing his first songs a year later. By the time he was a teenager, he was playing professionally in a touring Western swing band.

After brief stints in the Air Force and college, Nelson became a radio DJ, all the while writing songs. By the time he moved to Nashville in 1960, he had already written a few significant songs, "Night Life" and "Family Bible" among them. While he thrived through the decade as a Music Row songwriter, his solo recording career faltered. He bridled at record-label attempts to make him over into a smooth Nashville Sound crooner. When Nelson's house burned down in 1970, he took that as a cosmic cue and moved back to Texas.

It was there that he found his groove. He grew his hair. He became part of the Austin scene. He started writing more personal songs. The album Shotgun Willie (1973), with its stripped-down storytelling, announced a new direction. In the mid-'70s, Nelson collaborated with another Nashville outcast, Waylon Jennings, and their rough and ready Outlaw sound shifted the direction of country music.

Not one to be pinned down stylistically, Nelson has spent the past 30 years dabbling in everything from reggae to rap to the Great American Songbook, while living on his tour bus and playing 200-plus dates a year.

A humanitarian and philanthropist, Willie was also one of the organizers behind the hugely successful Farm Aid benefit, founded in 1985. More recently, he helped form a biodiesel company (BioWillie) that makes fuel out of recycled vegetable oil.

Much like Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby before him, Willie Nelson infuses his warm, well-traveled style with an everyman quality that transcends genres and trends to speak to listeners of all ages.

As Emmylou Harris once put it, "If America could sing with one voice, it would be Willie's." In 2013, Nelson received the first Kris Kristofferson Award for lifetime achievement in songwriting from the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
 

"A Place to Fall Apart"

(written with Freddy Powers, Merle Haggard)

Merle Haggard & Janie Fricke1984 #1 country
 

"Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground"

Willie Nelson1980 #1 country
Bob Dylan1983 
Steve Forbert1994 
Raul Malo2006 
 

"Bloody Mary Morning"

Willie Nelson1970 #17 country
 

"Congratulations"

Faron Young1961 #28 country
Ricky Nelson1966 
Willie Nelson1972 

"Crazy"

Patsy Cline1961 #2 country, #9 pop
Willie Nelson1962 
Kay Starr1962 
Dolly Parton1963 
Ray Price1967 #73 country
Jack Greene1967 
Wanda Jackson1972 
Linda Ronstadt1976 #6 country
Loretta Lynn1977 
John Conlee1979 
LeAnn Rimes1999 
 

"Darkness on the Face of the Earth"

Willie Nelson1962 
Hawkshaw Hawkins1962 
Johnny Bush1969 
 

"Family Bible"

Claude Gray1960 #10 country
Ferlin Husky1961 
George Jones1961 #16 country
Porter Wagoner1963 
Ernest Tubb1963 
Faron Young1964 
Bobby Bare1966 
Connie Smith1967 
Willie Nelson1971 
Merle Haggard1971 
Pat Boone1972 
Willie Nelson1980 #92 country
Johnny Cash1990 
Ricky Van Shelton1991 
Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson1998 
Charley Pride & Willie Nelson2006 
 

"Forgiving You Was Easy"

Willie Nelson1985 #1 country

"Funny How Time Slips Away"

Billy Walker1961 #23 country
Jan Howard1962 
Jimmy Elledge1962 #22 pop
Wanda Jackson1963 
Johnny Tillotson1963 #50 pop
Joe Hinton1964 #13 pop
Willie Nelson1965 
Brenda Lee1965 
Stevie Wonder1965 
Ray Price1965 
Brook Benton1966 
Tom Jones1967 
Joe Tex1968 
Jim Ed Brown1969 
Elvis Presley1971 
Al Green1973 
Bryan Ferry1974 
Narvel Felts1975 #12 country
Dorothy Moore1976 #58 pop
The Spinners1983 #67 pop
George Jones2005 
 

"Good Hearted Woman"

(written with Waylon Jennings)

Waylon Jennings1972 #3 country
The Everly Brothers1972 
Charley Pride1972 
Ernest Tubb1972 
Nat Stuckey1972 
Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson1975 #1 country, #25 pop
George Jones1980 
Marty Robbins1981 
Johnny Paycheck1982 
Chet Atkins1984 
Johnny Russell1989 
Guy Clark2003 
 

"Half a Man"

Willie Nelson1963 #25 country
Don Gibson1968 
Merle Haggard1982 
Roy Drusky1982 
 

"Happiness Lives Next Door"

Dottie West1965 
Jim Ed Brown1969 
Willie Nelson1970 
 

"Healing Hands of Time"

Willie Nelson1965 
Ray Price1966 
Dottie West1968 
Jim Ed Brown1969 
Jessi Colter1970 
Janie Fricke1988 
 

"Hello Walls"

Faron Young1961 #1 country, #12 pop
Willie Nelson1962 
Johnny Burnette1962 
Kitty Wells1962 
Ricky Nelson1966 
Brook Benton1966 
Roy Drusky1982 
Jason & the Scorchers1996 
 

"I Can Get Off on You"

(written with Waylon Jennings)

Waylon Jennings1978 #1 country
 

"I Just Can't Let You Say Goodbye"

Willie Nelson1966 #48 country
Porter Wagoner1967 
Roy Drusky1982 
 

"I'm Still Not Over You"

Willie Nelson1966 
Ray Price1968 #6 country
Jack Greene1967 
Jeannie Seely1968 
 

"I'm a Memory"

Willie Nelson1971 #28 country
Brenda Lee1973 
Willie Nelson1977 #22 country
 

"Little Things"

(written with Shirley Nelson)

Willie Nelson1968 #22 country
Jimmy Dean1968 
Jeannie Seely1968 
Connie Smith1968 
Dottie West1968 
Tammy Wynette1976 

"Night Life"

Ray Price1963 #28 country
Doris Day1963 
Rusty Draper1963 #57 pop
Wanda Jackson1965 
Willie Nelson1965 
Dottie West1965 
B. B. King1966 
Claude Gray1968 #31 country
George Jones1978 
Danny Davis & Willie Nelson1980 #20 country
Razzy Bailey1983 
Roy Clark1986 
B. J. Thomas1986 #59 country
Little Willies2006 

"On the Road Again"

Grammy for Best Country Song

Willie Nelson1980 #1 country, #20 pop
Teresa Brewer1983 
Deana Carter & Willie Nelson2007 
 

"One in a Row"

Willie Nelson1966 #19 country
Trisha Yearwood1993 

"Pretty Paper"

Roy Orbison1963 #15 pop
Glen Campbell1968 
Mickey Gilley1976 
Willie Nelson1979 
Cristy Lane1983 
Randy Travis1989 
Ricky Van Shelton1989 
Asleep at the Wheel1997 
Carly Simon2002 
Kenny Chesney2003 #45 country
Chris Isaak2004 
 

"Three Days"

Faron Young1961 #7 country
Willie Nelson1962 
k. d. lang1989 #55 country
L71996 
Mandy Barnett1996 
 

"Touch Me"

Willie Nelson1962 #2 country
Buck Owens1963 
Dottie West1965 
Sammi Smith1977 
 

"Undo the Right"

(written with Hank Cochran)

Willie Nelson1962 
Johnny Bush1968 #10 country
Tracy Byrd1999 
 

"What Can You Do to Me Now"

Willie Nelson1971 
 

"Who Do I Know in Dallas"

(written with Hank Cochran)

Merle Haggard1969 
Willie Nelson1970 
Kenny Price1970 #64 country
 

"Yesterday's Wine"

Willie Nelson1971 #62 country
Waylon Jennings1976 
Merle Haggard & George Jones1982 #1 country
David Allan Coe1983 
 

"You Took My Happy Away"

Willie Nelson1964 #33 country
Ray Price1967 

Willie Nelson

Induction Year: 1973