How much is Willie Nelson worth?
|Net Worth:||$30 Million|
|Date of Birth:||April 29, 1933|
|Country:||United States of America|
Who Is Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas, on April 30, 1933. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Willie Nelson worked as a radio DJ in Texas and Washington in the mid-1950s. Nelson played in several bands, but began to play music more seriously when he settled in the Houston area. He also began more aggressively market his songs to other artists.
Toby Keith immortalized Willie Nelson’s bold taste in marijuana in the song “Weed with Willie,” which appeared on Keith’s album Shock’n Y’all.
Writing “Crazy” for Patsy Cline
To further his musical ambitions, Nelson relocated to Nashville in 1960. He began working for Hal Smith’s publishing house, Pamper Music, where he found success placing hits with Billy Walker (“Funny How Time Slips Away”) and, most enduringly, Patsy Cline (“Crazy”).
Struggling Solo Artist
Willie Nelson was a less than overnight success. In 1962, he signed a recording contract with Liberty Records, but except for a pair of top 10 singles, the young country singer failed to make an impression with listeners. Despite his superlative songs, he was a strange fish compared to his Music City brethren. His halting vocals owed more to supper club crooners than honky-tonk singers, and they took some time to grow on a conservative country audience.
Biding His Time
In 1970, Nelson returned to Texas creatively chastened and with a broken marriage. In Austin, his increasingly maverick persona and scruffy songs began to gain a following. Given a few years, Nelson signed with Atlantic Records, resulting in the adventurous records Shotgun Willie (1973) and Phases and Stages (1974); they laid the groundwork for what was to come.
Breaking the Rules, Breaking the Bank
Everything changed for Nelson in 1975. He released The Red Headed Stranger. It became one of the best-selling albums of Nelson’s career, and among of the most influential country albums of its time.
Although his record company (now Columbia) initially wanted it re-recorded, it ended up being released as Nelson intended. The result was more than any A&R; rep could have hoped for: over a million copies flew off shelves. It changed the atmosphere in Nashville, and yielded Nelson’s first #1 song: “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” written by Fred Rose.
Nelson became associated with the Outlaw Country movement, along with Waylon Jennings, Tompall Glaser, and Jessi Colter. The collaborated on the compilation album Wanted! The Outlaws which became the first platinum-selling country record in history.
After his 1970s peak, Nelson has continued to be a talent to be reckoned with. He had tax problems with the IRS in 1990, but the country singer settled his hefty tax debt (at one time estimated to be $32 million) by 1993.
That year offered another milestone, when Nelson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
For the remainder of the ’90s and into the 2000s, Nelson has continued to have a healthy following and a prolific output of records.
The Complete Atlantic Sessions
When Willie Nelson came on the scene of the early alt.country (aka “outlaw country”) movement in the 1970s, his background was a muddling of old cowboy tunes, folk songs, gospel, and whiskey-fueled Texas country-western. This boxed set showcases the early days of Nelson’s rise in the Austin music scene, and eventually to worldwide popularity.
Featured here is a reissue of his 1973 “debut” Shotgun Willie, 1974’s Phases and Stages and another record made live at the Texas Opry House.
Willie’s classics like “Bloody Mary Morning” and “Whiskey River” rock just as hard now as they did back in the early 70s.
Honestly, the most fabulous thing about this boxed set is the live recording. Nelson is an incredible songwriter, and his studio efforts are, quite obviously, unforgettable. He’s forged a great career with his long series of impeccable studio albums.
Which is exactly why it’s so much fun to crank up the Live at the Texas Opry House CD. After making your way through a couple of different versions of his biggest heartbreakers from Phases and Stages (“I Still Can’t Believe That You’re Gone,” “Heaven and Hell” and “It’s Not Supposed to Be That Way”) it’s an emotional relief to stick in the live disc and hear him break into ripping down-home versions of “Sister’s Coming Home” and “Bloody Mary Morning.”
Nelson’s debut album was great as it was, but with this boxed set reissue, the producers have tacked on a bevy of rare recordings at the end.
My general beef with boxed sets is that they tend to do this in the strangest of places. I’d personally have preferred to have the reissued albums with one or two bonus tracks, and then a separate CD that features rarities and outtakes.
With that said, the rarities and bonus tracks featured on Shotgun Willie are great tracks. It’s just maybe a little too much music for one sitting.
Then again, with MP3 culture abounding these days, this fact can be quite forgiveable. The album translates well to digital players that allow you to shuffle the songs and listen to them at whatever length interval works for you.
Traditional Folk Roots, et al
Most people would generally think of Willie Nelson as an old time country man who’s spent much of his career cranking out country ballads and honky-tonk breakdowns. But Nelson’s early work was as much rooted in southern jazz, country swing, traditional Americana, and old-school folk music as anything else.
It’s precisely these qualities that shine so clearly on these early recordings. It’s nice to look back and be able to understand completely how a man like Willie Nelson has managed to stick around in the National music scene so long. It all started with these early Atlantic recordings, which featured possibly some of the best songwriting of the era.
Victim of The Blues
Part of the first generation of young whites who looked to the blues for inspiration, Tracy Nelson began her recording career 47 years ago. Her band Mother Earth was part of the San Francisco psychedelic scene, and she has recorded country, rock, blues, and soul, not to mention various combinations of these genres. Her rich, husky alto has retained its expressive power all along the way. Tracy Nelson is one of America’s greatest vocalists.
Tracy Nelson’s Victim Of The Blues
After releasing You’ll Never Be A Stranger At My Door, a collection of country and western covers back in 2007, Nelson decided to revisit her blues roots for this new album. After assembling a first-rate band – including Nashville-based blues-rock guitarist Mike Henderson; long-time session fave keyboardist Jimmy Pugh (you’ve seen his name on albums by Robert Cray, John Lee Hooker, and Chris Isaak); bassist Byron House, currently of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy, and who has worked with Jorma Kaukonen and Sam Bush; and Nashville session drummer extraordinaire John Gardner (credits include Dixie Chicks, Willie Nelson, Phoebe Snow, and dozens more) – Nelson put them to work on a terrific selection of mostly Chicago blues-based old favorites. Producer Mike Dysinger does a masterful job, getting a sound where the snare drum snaps, the acoustic bass resonates through the wood, the guitar crackles, the organ breathes, and Nelson’s vocals are clear and present.
Two Howlin’ Wolf covers are included. “You’ll Be Mine” emphasizes the love and tenderness that was always implicit in Wolf’s original underneath all his dangerous bluster. Nelson lets the melody soar over Pugh’s tinkling piano and rigidly enticing guitar from Henderson. The latter’s solo burns particularly hard here. For “Howlin’ For My Baby,” Nelson invites her old friend Angela Strehli for a duet. Again, Henderson is pitch-perfect, using insinuating guitar chatter to hint at the sexual aggression Wolf put at the forefront. On the chorus, Nelson’s voice is almost as powerful as Wolf’s.
Jimmy Reed’s Honest I Do
The other artist to earn two covers is Jimmy Reed – Nelson’s liner notes explain that she lost her virginity to “Honest I Do,” so she must pay tribute. For “Shoot My Baby,” Marcia Ball guest stars on piano and harmony vocals. You can tell Nelson is having a blast singing this which, in the hands of a female singer, stands with the Dixie Chicks classic “Goodbye Earl” as a joyous tale of revenge on the traitorous male. “I Know It’s A Sin,” like several other cuts here, benefits from the gospel-based harmony and call-and-response backing vocals provided by Vicki Carrico, Reba Russell, John Cowan, Terry Tucker, and James “Nick” Nixon.
The title track comes from a Ma Rainey number that Nelson only recently discovered. Henderson plays something billed as a banjolin, which presumably is a mandolin with banjo strings, and which sounds eerily evocative of some long-lost time outside the actual recording of blues. Nelson clearly loves the old diva blues songs of the 1920s, and she wrings every possible nuance out of this gem. Nelson is a master of dynamics – she can sing louder and with more oomph than just about anybody, but she loves to hold back and just raise the roof when it most perfectly matches the mood of the lyrics.
Muddy Waters’ One More Mile
“One More Mile” is an even better example of Nelson’s way with delivery. This Muddy Waters slow blues, which she learned from an Otis Spann record, is a song about enduring suffering because of the hope for redemption which is just around the corner. Backed by the male gospel harmonies of her singers, Nelson eases into the tale, gliding into certain syllables which must be emphasized to increase the meaning of the words. Henderson’s guitar matches her, too – his solo starts with a repeated single note played for several bars as if it can’t escape its fate before it suddenly breaks free with the promise of greater experience. Nelson sings the final verse loud and lean with the expectation that her man is finally coming home.
Nelson does such a great job of picking songs. Percy Mayfield’s “Stranger In My Own Home Town” is a sad tale of mysterious rejection; Nelson sounds confused and lonely, but determined to get through this depth. Joe Tex’s classic early-1960s soul gem “The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)” allows Nelson to nail the sense of determination in the face of his past hurts, and the desire to give advice to prevent others from making the same mistakes. She gives such a clinic on how to inhabit a lyric with this song, how to save her powers for the perfect moments rather than starting off belting out at the top of her lungs. It should be required listening for every contestant (and judge) on American Idol.
“Lead A Horse To Water” is a wonderful soul song which Nelson thought had to be an obscure oldie but which turns out to be by contemporary songwriter Earl Bridgeman. Nelson brings all her experience to the line, “I never said that I know it all but I’m wise beyond my years,” setting up the painful realization that “You can lead a man to knowledge but you can’t make him think.” Pugh and Henderson drench their instruments in reverb which adds to the entrancement of the recording.
Tracy Nelson makes absolutely no wrong moves in this stunning return to the blues of her youth. Victim Of The Blues is one of those records that instantly displays its warmth and pleasures, and then slowly reveals even more depth of emotion with each listen. After all these years, Nelson has only improved in her ability to express her passionate love for the blues. (Delta Groove Music, released April 19, 2011)
Willie Nelson comes with family and friends in tow on Heroes, his first new album since, oh, last year’s Remember Me, Vol. 1. With over 60 albums to his name, Nelson shows no signs of slowing down as he heads into his 80th year. So how does this latest record stack against his body of work?
Willie’s Gang of Outlaws
By far the most intriguing guest singer on Heroes is Snoop Dogg. As bizarre as it might seem, the Long Beach MC doesn’t seem out of place singing “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die.” Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson are also featured on this ode to cannibus and cremation. Sure, the tune feels a little throwaway, but it shows you “Shotgun Willie” has lost none of his irreverence.
“A Horse Called Music,” the title track from Nelson’s 1989 album, is given a sparkling new rendition courtesy of guest vocals by Merle Haggard. More familiar material also comes our way courtesy of Fred Rose’s “Home In San Antone,” “Cold War With You” (featuring Ray Price), and “My Window Faces The South.”
Covering Coldplay, Pearl Jam, and Tom Waits
Less conventional are the album’s series of covers from non-country artists. The most notable is Willie’s take on Coldplay’s smash hit “The Scientist.” The song closes out the album, and is perfectly satisfactory. But it still feels a little odd. Nelson doesn’t quite makes the song his own, and tries with little success to mold his voice to the cadences of Chris Martin’s overplayed original.
Even less successful is Nelson’s rendition of Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe.” I can understand what attracted Nelson to the song, which considers love and mortality. But absent Eddie Vedder’s growl, the lyrics end up sounding as trite as they read on the page. Better is “Come On Up to the House,” originally recorded by Tom Waits. It’s a celebration of family that crosses over into the religious.
Willie Nelson and Sons
Clearly, Heroes is a family affair for Nelson. His son Lukas wrote three songs — “Every Time He Drinks He Thinks of Her,” “No Place To Fly,” and “The Sound of Your Memory” — and sings on a good many more. (Is this a new trend? George Strait co-wrote much of 2011’s Here for a Good Time with his son Bubba.)
Still, some listeners will take issue with Lukas’s vocal delivery. His high-and-wiry voice and off-beat phrasing closely mirrors that of his father. Many will find it distracting, at least at first. After a few listens Lukas starts to fade into the tapestry. In case you were wondering, Nelson’s other son, Micah, wasn’t left out of this recording project. He sings and co-wrote the off-the-wall “Come On Back Jesus.”
Less commercially attuned than some of Nelson’s other 21st century efforts, Heroes is a charmingly off-the-cuff effort. It’s probably not a timeless listening experience, but then what is? The uncluttered arrangements complement Nelson’s voice, making for a laid-back good time.
Number One Songs from Willie Nelson
- “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” (1975)
- “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time” (1976)
- “Good Hearted Woman” (1976)
- “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” (1978)
- “Georgia on My Mind” (1978)
- “I Can Get Off On You” (1978)
- “Blue Skies” (1978)
- “Heartbreak Hotel” (1979)
- “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” (1980)
- “On the Road Again” (1980)
- “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” (1981)
- “Always on My Mind” (1982)
- “Just to Satisfy You” (1982)
- “Pancho and Lefty” (1983)
- “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” (1984)
- “City of New Orleans” (1984)
- “Seven Spanish Angels” (1985)
- “Forgiving You Was Easy” (1985)
- “Living in the Promiseland” (1986)
- “Nothing I Can Do About It Now” (1989)
- The Red Headed Stranger (1975, Columbia Records)
- Teatro (1998, Island Records)