Is Willie Nelson still alive? It’s been a minute since the country legend made major headlines, and it leaves some people wondering if the outlaw musician is still around. For someone Willie Nelson’s age to still be making music would be a fantastic feat. Take a look back at the Hall of Famer’s career and find out what happened to Nelson after a 2019 health scare.
Willie Nelson Has Had A Long Withstanding Musical Career
No matter what genre of music you prefer, there is no denying that Willie Nelson is a hands-down legend. Born during the Great Depression, he rose from poverty to turn his childhood hobby into a record-breaking career.
“Since I was a kid, music was what I wanted to do. I thought I could make it by my own talents,” he told Parade in 2010. That’s what I wanted to prove. When I was about 12, I had my first paying gig—$8 to play rhythm guitar in a polka band. Pretty soon, I ended up playing in all the bars within driving distance of Abbott, Texas.”
Nelson spent his twenties in his native Texas, working as a radio DJ by day and honky-tonk singer at night. He relocated to Nashville in the 1960s and quickly immersed himself in the burgeoning country and R&B scenes. There, he found success as a songwriter for other artists. However, his own solo career was only a modest success.
By the time he moved back to Texas in the 1970s, he had developed his own unique sound. He supplemented hits like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” (1975) and “On the Road Again” (1980) with side projects like The Highwaymen—an outlaw country supergroup featuring fellow legends Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson.
Nelson has a total of 10 Grammy Awards and 52 nominations. In 1993, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame; five years later, he was the recipient at the Kennedy Center Honors. Nelson was even inducted into the National Agricultural Hall of Fame for organizing Farm Aid—an annual benefit for American family farmers.
Is Willie Nelson Still Alive?
Yes! Willie Nelson is alive and well. In fact, he turned 88 this past April.
Willie’s Roadhouse, his own channel on Sirius XM, hosted a 4-day celebration to honor his birthday. Nelson, who was married four times, has six living children (Willy Jr. died in 1991), and he enjoyed well wishes from his kids via Zoom.
Nelson even heard from peers on social media. Check out a birthday message from the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards:
What Is Willie Nelson’s Health Status In 2021?
Nelson has survived a few health scares in his lifetime. In 1981, his lung collapsed while swimming in Maui, and in 2012, he canceled a Denver concert, citing “problems due to the high altitude and emphysema.”
The longtime tobacco and pot smoker told NPR in 2012 that he gave up the former after two or three cases of pneumonia. But in 2019, he hit pause on a summer tour because lung problems flared up again.
“To my fans, I’m sorry to cancel my tour, but I have a breathing problem that I need to have my doctor check out,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’ll be back. Love, Willie.”
Later that year, he told San Antonio station KSAT that he had finally given up inhaling marijuana.
“I have abused my lungs quite a bit in the past, so breathing is a little more difficult these days and I have to be careful,” said Wilson. “I don’t smoke anymore—take better care of myself.”
Since then, Wilson seems to be in good health and spirits. He kicked off quarantine by spending quality time with his family; by January 2021, he had received his Covid vaccine and encouraged fans to follow suit.
Nelson continues to be an advocate for the legalization of marijuana. This past April, he cohosted Luck Summit: Planting the Seed. The four-day virtual festival aimed “to destigmatize, educate, and promote cannabis culture in an informative and entertaining way.”
“I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug,” Nelson said. “Marijuana is an herb and a flower… If [God] put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?”
Of course, Nelson hasn’t forgotten his first love: music. He even continues to experiment with genres and collaborate with unexpected artists. In October 2020, he released a cover of David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” with the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s frontwoman Karen O. He also released the Frank Sinatra cover album That’s Life—his 71st solo studio album—this past February.
Does Willie Nelson Still Tour?
All that’s left is for Nelson is a return to a live stage. Even his son Lukas is nudging him via social media to get back on the road again:
Nelson answered fans’ and family members’ calls. According to his website, he has shows scheduled well into 2022.
It’s a thrill to hear that he survived a bleak 2020. We also love that he’s the same spirited singer and songwriter fans fell in love with back in the 1970s. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate Nelson while he’s still here. His contribution to culture and society can never be replicated.