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Willie Nelson          

Country Music Singer-Songwriter; "Always on My Mind;" Author, "It's A Long Story"

Singer, songwriter, actor and philanthropist Willie Nelson was born on April 30, 1933, in Abbott, Texas. During his extensive career, Nelson has written more than 2,500 songs and has released close to 300 albums. He has won multiple awards, including countless Grammys, American Music Awards and Country Music Awards.

In 2012, the Country Music Association honored Nelson with an all-star tribute at the CMAs in Nashville. He is recognized worldwide as an American troubadour and icon, transcended musical genres and has remained relevant through five decades for his music, acting and as the face of such social causes as Farm Aid, development of bio-diesel and the legalization of marijuana.

Nelson had dropped out of college and worked as a radio disc jockey for several years and played gigs in his spare time. He would write songs, producing some of his most famous works -- inclucing "Night Life," "Crazy" and "Funny How Time Slips Away" -- in the late 1950s.

In 1960, Nelson moved to the country music capital: Nashville, Tennessee. He got a job as a songwriter for Pamper Music, earning about $50 a week. The next year, two of Nelson's songs become hits for other artists -- Faron Young's version of "Hello Walls" and Patsy Cline's legendary rendition of "Crazy." His first album was released the next year without generating much notice.

Singer Ray Price, with whom Nelson had played with previously, made Nelson's song "Night Life" a big hit in 1963. It seemed that his songs were only successful when they were sung by other people. With his gritty, road house sound, Nelson did not fit into the traditional Nashville country music scene. Producers tried to make him fit the more classic country mold, but they just stripped away his unique style, such as his unusual manner of phrasing. And his resistance to these efforts made him a bit of an outlaw, as did his reputation as a hard-drinking, hard-living man.

Nelson moved to Austin, TX, and kept recording albums, but now he was definitely going his own way. Soon the long haired, bandana-wearing guitarist started to develop a following. Shotgun Willie (1973) is considered to be one of his greatest albums of all time, and showcased his abilities as a singer, storyteller, and performer. The next year, Nelson released Phases and Stages, which became another popular album for the rising star.

With his album, Red Headed Stranger, Nelson had his first taste of crossover success. It did well on both the country and rock charts and featured the hit "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," which was written by Fred Rose. Along with being his first song to reach No. 1 on the country charts, the song also brought Nelson his first Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1975.

Always interested in different music styles, Nelson recorded his own takes on some American standards on his album Stardust. His cover of Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell's "Georgia on My Mind" earned him his second Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance.

Around this time, Nelson also branched out into acting. He first appeared in "The Electric Horseman" starring Robert Redford. Soon after, Nelson starred in "Honeysuckle Rose," in which he played a veteran country musician performer. The film also featured the song "On the Road Again," which earned Nelson an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. The ballad "Always on my Mind" won the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1982.

The following year, Nelson teamed up with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson to form the Highwaymen. Their first release was a big hit, as was the title track, and they produced another album.

Nelson still tours heavily, playing approximately 150 to 200 dates a year. Always experimenting, Nelson continues to try out new types of material. In 2005, he released Countryman, which incorporated elements of reggae. Nelson's album, Heroes, featured appearances by Merle Haggard, Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristoferrson and Sheryl Crow, among others. In 2012 the Country Music Association honored Nelson with an all-star tribute at the CMAs in Nashville.

Nelson has also appeared on the big screen in more films such as "Surfer Dude" in 2008, "Shoot Out of Luck," "Beer for My Horses" and "The Boom Boom Room."

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Willie Nelson Becomes Honorary Doctor - ABC News

Image Credit: Paul Marotta/Getty Images Country music legend Willie Nelson has been named an honorary doctor — of music. The 80-year-old Texan was ...

Willie Nelson's 'Stardust' LP Will Be Performed Live | Music News ...

Willie Nelson tours more than 200 nights a year, largely drawing from his 20 Number One country hits, but fans now have a different kind of show to.

Willie Nelson wins Gershwin Prize

JULY 9, 2015, 2:57 PM| The Library of Congress says it will award country singer Willie Nelson with the "Gershwin Prize For Popular Song." CBSN's Jeff Glor has more on the historic accolade.

Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt to headline Harvey benefit concert - CBS ...

Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt are the latest celebrities to ... Harvey Relief (administered by the Greater Houston Community Fund).

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