Willie Nelson is one of the most accomplished American musicians in history. With 95 studio albums under his belt and more than 40 million records sold in the U.S. alone, the 87-year-old performer has become a country-music legend. He’s also written books, appeared in movies, and been involved in many high-profile charities, including the founding of Farm Aid in 1985.
In addition to his prolific career, Nelson also has a large family—eight children, to be exact. One of his kids, 32-year-old Lukas Nelson, has become a successful singer and songwriter just like his dad. Here’s an inside peek into the life and career of Willie Nelson’s son, Lukas.
Lukas Nelson Is The Lead Singer Of Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real
Lukas Nelson has been the frontman for the country-rock group Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real since 2008. The band has released six studio albums and four EPs, and has written music for TV shows and films. They’ve also served as the regular backing band for music legend Neil Young since 2015.
Lukas Nelson Helped Co-Write And Produce The Music From ‘A Star Is Born’
Lukas Nelson has a knack for writing music that touches audiences’ hearts. Bradley Cooper recognized this immediately after hearing Nelson play and hired him as a music consultant for his 2018 film A Star Is Born.
“I met Bradley in 2016 right after Desert Trip, which I played [as part of Neil Young’s band],” Nelson told The Fader in 2018. “Bradley caught us there and called me afterwards. I went over to his house and we began working together. We definitely got along. I liked his approach to working hard. I grew up in a family of hard workers, and he seemed like a brother to me. We connected pretty quickly on many things.”
The two hit it off so well, in fact, that Lukas Nelson ended up writing and producing the majority of the music for the film’s soundtrack.
“I read the script and knew the story, but when it came to writing the songs, it was more just me writing for myself — feeling how I felt about life, and relating to the character,” Nelson explained. “I wasn’t writing for anyone but me, and that’s what makes for a good song. I worked on every one of the songs except for the really poppy stuff. The music you hear on the soundtrack was played by my band, and I produced those songs with everybody.”
Nelson also served as inspiration for Cooper’s performance as the fictional country-rocker, Jackson Maine. And thanks to A Star Is Born, Nelson has an acting credit to his name—he appears with Promise of the Real as a member of Jackson Maine’s band.
“I was originally hired as a musical consultant, so writing and being on screen didn’t come till later. We naturally evolved that way because we were all hanging out together,” he said. “At the same time, Bradley was watching me playing and my mannerisms, and took a lot from that for his character. [He was also inspired by] our heroes like Neil Young and Jim Morrison. Jackson Maine is a mix of the rock-and-roll guys and the country guys.”
Lukas Nelson Was Raised In Hawaii
Born in Austin, TX, in 1988, Nelson spent a great deal of his childhood in Maui, Hawaii, where he did not receive special treatment for being the son of a big celebrity. “My mom thought it would be kind of a nice place to really raise me, along with Austin, going back and forth,” he told NPR in 2017. “Because here in Austin, dad’s got this — people think he’s just the king, and she didn’t want me growing up thinking I was a prince. I really appreciate that.”
Nelson also said that growing up in both places helped nurture his love of music.
“Austin is a special place in terms of music, so that had a major influence on me. But Maui is too,” he told NPR. “I got lost in music on Maui, just jamming, and being introduced into reggae out there. I had a reggae band out there for a bit. It’s just different flavors of the same kind of spirit, so to speak.”
You can hear more Nelson’s upbringing in this interview with Stay Human Podcast:
Lukas Nelson Is Extremely Close With His Father And Brother Micah
Lukas Nelson and his brother, Micah, are Nelson’s two youngest children. They share the same mom, Annie D’Angelo, who has been married to Willie Nelson since 1991. Growing up the son of a famous musician definitely had its perks, especially for a kid with a major interest in music.
“Dad used to have my brother and I both on stage, even when we were little tykes playing percussion,” he told NPR. “I remember I had a dream when I was six years old, and I was onstage, and I was terrified. I wanted to sing but I was terrified of singing. And something told me to shrink all of my conscious awareness into my chest. And I started singing from that place, and the crowd went wild. After that dream I was never afraid to be on stage and sing, and I didn’t realize until way later in life that that dream was kind of a vision, and it was like a metaphor: If you’re ever fearful, go into your heart and come from that place, and that will alleviate the fear.”
In addition to helping him overcome his stage fright, Lukas loved performing because it meant he got to hang out with his famous father.
“Music was a way for me to spend more time with him,” Lukas Nelson said on the Walking the Floor podcast in 2017 (as reported by Rolling Stone). “I thought if I got really good, I could join him on the road, which I did.”
In fact, Lukas Nelson still performs with his dad when he has the chance and opens for him with Promise of the Real. He also plays with Micah (a.k.a. Particle Kid), who is also a musician and artist.
What Does Lukas Nelson Have Planned For 2021?
Like most musicians and bands, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real were forced to cancel their live shows in 2020 due to the pandemic. And it appears the band has nothing currently scheduled for 2021.
However, the coronavirus hasn’t stopped Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real from continuing to entertain their fans. The band has been recording and sharing cover songs as part of an ongoing YouTube video called Soundcheck Songs. Lukas even broke out on his own a posted a recording of one of his solo tunes, “Set Me Down On A Cloud.”
We’re sure that Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real will be back on stage as soon as it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, we’re happy to see that Nelson is continuing to make music and do what makes him happy!