120 Facts About Willie Nelson

1.

Willie Nelson was one of the main figures of outlaw country, a subgenre of country music that developed in the late 1960s as a reaction to the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound.

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2.

Willie Nelson has acted in over 30 films, co-authored several books, and has been involved in activism for the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana.

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3.

Willie Nelson worked as a disc jockey at radio stations in his native Texas, and in several radio stations in the Pacific Northwest, all the while working as a singer and songwriter throughout the late 1950s.

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4.

In 1990, Willie Nelson's assets were seized by the Internal Revenue Service, which claimed that he owed $32million.

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5.

Willie Nelson explored genres such as reggae, blues, jazz, and folk.

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6.

Willie Nelson made his first movie appearance in the 1979 film The Electric Horseman, followed by other appearances in movies and on television.

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7.

Willie Nelson is a major liberal activist and the co-chair of the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which is in favor of marijuana legalization.

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8.

Willie Nelson is the honorary chairman of the advisory board of the Texas Music Project, the official music charity of the state of Texas.

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9.

Willie Nelson was named Willie by his cousin Mildred, who chose Hugh as his middle name, in honor of her recently deceased younger brother.

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10.

Willie Nelson's parents moved to Texas from Arkansas in 1929 to look for work.

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11.

Willie Nelson's mother left soon after he was born, and his father remarried and moved away, leaving Nelson and his sister Bobbie to be raised by their grandparents, who taught singing back in Arkansas and started their grandchildren in music.

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12.

Willie Nelson's grandfather bought him a guitar when he was six, and taught him a few chords, and Willie Nelson sang gospel songs in the local church alongside Bobbie.

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13.

Willie Nelson wrote his first song at age seven, and when he was nine, he played guitar for local band Bohemian Polka.

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14.

Willie Nelson disliked picking cotton, so he earned money by singing in dance halls, taverns, and honky tonks from age 13, which he continued through high school.

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15.

Willie Nelson attended Abbott High School, where he was a halfback on the football team, guard on the basketball team, and shortstop in baseball.

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16.

Meanwhile, Willie Nelson had a short stint as a relief phone operator in Abbott, followed by a job as a tree trimmer for the local electric company, as well as a pawn shop employee.

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17.

Willie Nelson worked as a nightclub bouncer, autohouse partsman, saddle maker, and tree trimmer again.

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18.

Willie Nelson moved with his family to Pleasanton, Texas, where he auditioned for a job as a DJ at KBOP.

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19.

Willie Nelson recorded the tracks on used tapes, and sent the demos to the local label SARG Records, which rejected them.

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20.

Willie Nelson then had stints working for KDNT in Denton, KCUL, and KCNC in Fort Worth, where he hosted The Western Express, taught Sunday school, and played in nightclubs.

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21.

Willie Nelson then decided to move to San Diego but, when he was unable to find a job there, he hitchhiked to Portland, Oregon, where his mother lived.

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22.

Willie Nelson was hired by KVAN in Vancouver, Washington, and appeared frequently on a television show.

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23.

Willie Nelson made his first record in 1956, "No Place for Me", that included Leon Payne's "Lumberjack" on the B-side.

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24.

Willie Nelson continued working as a radio announcer and singing in Vancouver clubs.

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25.

Willie Nelson made several appearances in a Colorado nightclub, later moving to Springfield, Missouri.

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26.

Willie Nelson sold bibles and vacuum cleaners door-to-door, and eventually became a sales manager for the Encyclopedia Americana.

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27.

Willie Nelson rented the apartment near Houston in Pasadena, Texas, where he worked at the radio station as the sign-on disc jockey.

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28.

Willie Nelson then was hired by guitar instructor Paul Buskirk to work as an instructor in his school.

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29.

Willie Nelson sold "Family Bible" to Buskirk for $50 and "Night Life" for $150.

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30.

Willie Nelson moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1960, but was unable to find a label to sign him.

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31.

On hearing Willie Nelson sing "Hello Walls" at Tootsie's, Faron Young decided to record it.

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32.

Willie Nelson signed with Liberty Records and was recording by August 1961 at Quonset Hut Studio.

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33.

Willie Nelson then worked on the west coast offices of Pamper Records, in Pico Rivera, California.

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34.

Willie Nelson moved to a ranch near Bandera, Texas, and married Connie Koepke.

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35.

Willie Nelson moved to Austin, Texas, where the burgeoning hippie music scene rejuvenated the singer.

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36.

Willie Nelson formed his backing band, The Family, and by February 1973, he was recording his acclaimed Shotgun Willie at Atlantic Studios in New York City.

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37.

Shotgun Willie Nelson, released in May 1973, earned excellent reviews but did not sell well.

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38.

Willie Nelson's next release, Phases and Stages, released in 1974, was a concept album about a couple's divorce, inspired by his own experience.

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39.

Willie Nelson then moved to Columbia Records, where he signed a contract that gave him complete creative control, made possible by the critical and commercial success of his previous albums.

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40.

Later that year Willie Nelson released The Sound in Your Mind and his first gospel album Troublemaker .

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41.

Willie Nelson, who was unaware of Elvis Presley's version of the song asked him to record it.

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42.

Meanwhile, Willie Nelson became more involved with charity work, such as singing on We are the World in 1984.

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43.

In 1985, Willie Nelson had another success with Half Willie Nelson, a compilation album of duets with a range of artists such as Ray Charles and Neil Young.

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44.

In 1996, Nelson re-recorded the tracks "Hello Walls" with the band The Reverend Horton Heat, and "Bloody Mary Morning" with the Supersuckers for Twisted Willie, a tribute album featuring rock versions of Nelson's songs performed by artists such as Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Cantrell, Mark Lanegan, L7, The Presidents of the United States of America, and Jello Biafra, among others.

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45.

Willie Nelson appeared on Ringo Starr's 2003 album, Ringo Rama, as a guest vocal on "Write One for Me".

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46.

Willie Nelson was featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album, and showcased many notable musicians including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Trey Anastasio, Gwen Stefani, and Keith Richards.

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47.

In 2010, Willie Nelson released Country Music, a compilation of standards produced by T-Bone Burnett.

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48.

In 2011 Willie Nelson participated in the concert Kokua For Japan, a fund raising event for the victims of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan which raised $1.

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49.

In February 2012, Legacy Recordings signed a deal with Willie Nelson that included the release of new material, as well as past releases that would be selected and complemented with outtakes and other material selected by him.

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50.

Cannon's association to Willie Nelson extended to songwriting, with singer and producer composing the lyrics by exchanging text messages.

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51.

Willie Nelson scored as well his second top ten album on the Billboard 200, with the release entering at number nine.

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52.

Willie Nelson's following release was Band of Brothers, in 2014, the first Nelson album to feature the most newly self-penned songs since 1996's Spirit.

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53.

In 2018, Willie Nelson sang a song written by Daniel Lanois called "Cruel World" for the soundtrack of Rockstar Games's action-adventure video game Red Dead Redemption 2.

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54.

Willie Nelson was ultimately able to record the song in time in Los Angeles; the team considered combining the two versions into a duet, but ultimately included both versions in the game.

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55.

Also in 2018, Willie Nelson was one of several artists on Restoration, a cover album containing various country renditions of songs originally by Elton John, on which he performed "Border Song".

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56.

Willie Nelson's acting debut was in the 1979 film The Electric Horseman, followed by appearances in Honeysuckle Rose, Thief, and Barbarosa.

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57.

Willie Nelson played the role of Red Loon in Coming Out of the Ice in 1982 and starred in Songwriter two years later.

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58.

Willie Nelson has made guest appearances on Miami Vice ; Delta; Nash Bridges; The Simpsons; Monk; Adventures in Wonderland; Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman; King of the Hill; The Colbert Report; Swing Vote; and Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

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59.

In 2002, Willie Nelson became the official spokesman of the Texas Roadhouse, a chain of steakhouses.

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60.

Willie Nelson heavily promoted the chain and appeared on a special on Food Network.

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61.

Willie Nelson registered his company with Earth Biofuels and he became a board member.

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62.

In 2007, Willie Nelson forfeited six million shares of the company as he left the board.

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63.

Willie Nelson kept the trademark for BioWiliie, which is sold in the islands of Maui and Hawaii.

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64.

Meanwhile, Willie Nelson owns shares of Big Island Biodiesel in Hawaii and SeQuential-Pacific Biodiesel in Oregon.

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65.

In 2010, Willie Nelson founded with the collaboration of producers and filmmakers Luck Films, a company dedicated to produce feature films, documentaries and concerts.

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66.

The next year, he created the Willie Nelson's Roadhouse show which aired on channel 56 of SiriusXM radio.

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67.

In November 2014, it was announced that Willie Nelson would be the host of the television series Inside Arlyn, shot at Arlyn Studio in Austin, Texas.

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68.

In 2017, Willie Nelson appeared as himself in Woody Harrelson's live film, Lost in London.

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69.

Willie Nelson uses a variety of music styles to create his own distinctive blend of country music, a hybrid of jazz, pop, blues, rock and folk.

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70.

Willie Nelson sent it to be repaired in Nashville by Shot Jackson, who told Nelson that the damage was too great.

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71.

Willie Nelson purchased the guitar unseen for $750 and named it after Roy Rogers' horse "Trigger".

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72.

When Willie Nelson was about to sign it with a marker, Russell requested him to scratch it instead, explaining that the guitar would be more valuable in the future.

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73.

In 1991, during his process with the IRS, Willie Nelson was worried that Trigger could be auctioned off, stating: "When Trigger goes, I'll quit".

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74.

Willie Nelson asked his daughter, Lana, to take the guitar from the studio before any IRS agent arrived there, and then deliver it to him in Maui.

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75.

Willie Nelson then concealed the guitar in his manager's house until his debt was paid off in 1993.

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76.

Willie Nelson is a co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws advisory board.

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77.

Willie Nelson has worked with NORML for years, promoting marijuana legalization.

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78.

In 2010, during an interview with Larry King, Willie Nelson expressed his doubts with regards to the attacks and the official story.

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79.

Willie Nelson explained that he could not believe that the buildings could collapse due to the planes, attributing instead the result to an implosion.

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80.

Willie Nelson supported Dennis Kucinich's campaign in the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries.

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81.

In January 2008, Willie Nelson filed a suit against the Texas Democratic Party, alleging that the party violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution by refusing to allow co-plaintiff Kucinich to appear on the primary ballot because he had scratched out part of the loyalty oath on his application.

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82.

Willie Nelson is on its board of directors and has adopted a number of horses from Habitat for Horses.

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83.

In 2008, Willie Nelson signed on to warn consumers about the cruel and illegal living conditions for calves raised to produce milk for dairy products.

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84.

Willie Nelson wrote letters to Land O'Lakes and Challenge Dairy, two of the major corporations that use milk from calves raised at California's Mendes Calf Ranch, which employs an intensive confinement practice that was the subject of a lawsuit and campaign brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

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85.

Willie Nelson is seen in the film The Garden supporting the impoverished community South Central Farm in Southern Los Angeles.

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86.

Supporter of the LGBT movement, Willie Nelson published in 2006 through iTunes a version of Ned Sublette's "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other", that met instant success.

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87.

Willie Nelson presented two logos with the pink equal sign, symbol of the LGBT movement.

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88.

In June 2018, Willie Nelson deplored the Trump administration family separation policy.

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89.

Willie Nelson endorsed O'Rourke, and received negative reactions from the conservative part of his followers.

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90.

In March 2021, "I'll Be Seeing You", a new original by Willie Nelson, was used on a public service announcement by the Ad Council to encourage COVID-19 vaccination in the United States.

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91.

Willie Nelson has been married four times and has seven children.

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92.

Willie Nelson married Koepke the same year, and they had another daughter, Amy Lee Willie Nelson.

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93.

Willie Nelson owns "Luck, Texas", a ranch in Spicewood, and lives in Maui, Hawaii with several celebrity neighbors.

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94.

Willie Nelson was taken to the Maui Memorial Hospital and his scheduled concerts were canceled.

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95.

Willie Nelson temporarily stopped smoking cigarettes each time his lungs became congested, and resumed when the congestion ended.

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96.

Willie Nelson was then smoking between two and three packs per day.

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97.

In 2004, Willie Nelson underwent surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, as he had damaged his wrists by continuously playing the guitar.

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98.

Willie Nelson suffered from breathing problems due to high altitude and emphysema and was taken to a local hospital.

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99.

Willie Nelson ordered self-defense manuals on jujitsu and judo that he saw advertised in Batman and Superman comic books.

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100.

Willie Nelson started to formally practice kung fu after he moved to Nashville, in the 1960s.

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101.

Willie Nelson then appeared before the judge, who dropped the charges but ordered Nelson to never return to the country.

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102.

Judge Becky Dean-Walker said that Willie Nelson would have to pay the fine but not to perform the song, explaining that the prosecutor was joking.

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103.

Willie Nelson was set to pay a $500 fine to avoid a two-year jail sentence with a 30-day review period, which in case of another incident would end the agreement.

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104.

The judge later rejected the agreement, claiming that Willie Nelson was receiving preferential treatment for his celebrity status; the offense normally carried a one-year jail sentence.

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105.

In 1978, after he fired his manager Neil Reshen, Willie Nelson was introduced by Dallas lawyer Terry Bray to the accounting firm Price Waterhouse.

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106.

Willie Nelson sued Price Waterhouse, contending that they put his money in illegal tax shelters.

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107.

Willie Nelson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993, and he received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998.

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108.

In 2011, Willie Nelson was inducted to the National Agricultural Hall of Fame, for his labor in Farm Aid and other fund raisers to benefit farmers.

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109.

In 2015 Willie Nelson won the Gershwin Prize, the lifetime award of the Library of Congress.

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110.

Willie Nelson was included by Rolling Stone on its 100 Greatest Singers and 100 Greatest Guitarists lists.

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111.

Willie Nelson was named honorary chairman of the advisory board of the project.

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112.

An important collection of Willie Nelson materials became part of the Wittliff collections of Southwestern Writers, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.

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113.

In 2014, Willie Nelson donated his personal collection to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

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114.

Willie Nelson is an honorary trustee of the Dayton International Peace Museum.

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115.

Also included among the first inductees was his friend Darrell Royal, whose jamming parties that Willie Nelson participated in were the source of inspiration for the show.

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116.

Many years, Willie Nelson's image was marked by his red hair, often divided into two long braids partially concealed under a bandanna.

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117.

Willie Nelson wanted a more maintainable hairstyle, as well helping him stay cool more easily at his Maui home.

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118.

In 1983, Willie Nelson cut his braids and gave them to Jennings as a gift during a party celebrating Jennings' sobriety.

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119.

Willie Nelson's touring and recording group, the Family, is full of longstanding members.

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120.

Willie Nelson built the Honeysuckle Rose I in 1983, which was replaced after a collision in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1990.

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