Known as the Red-Headed Stranger, '''Willie Hugh Nelson''' (born April 29, 1933) is perhaps one of the most iconic CountryMusic artists of the 20th century. He started his career in the 1950s, playing bass guitar for Ray Price and writing songs for others (ever heard of "Crazy" by Patsy Cline?). A modest #10 hit in 1962 ("Willingly"), first brought him to the charts, but it wasn't until 1975 that he broke through with the massive crossover hit "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain". For most of the 1970s and 1980s, Nelson was at the top of his game, charting both as a solo singer and as a duet partner with... well, almost everybody: WaylonJennings, MerleHaggard, Julio Iglesias and RayCharles, among others. Although Nelson hasn't touched the Top 40 on his own since 1990, the occasional duet has found its way onto the charts as late as 2003's "Beer for My Horses", with TobyKeith. One of country music's elder statesmen, and one of the very few artists from the 60's who is still around, Nelson is incredibly respected as a songwriter and lead guitarist, while his iconic jazzy singing style is instantly recognizable.
!Tropes present:
* AsHimself: In guest appearances on ''Film/SwingVote'', ''Film/BrokenBridges'', ''Film/{{Beerfest}}'', ''Series/{{Monk}}'', ''Film/TheCountryBears'', ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' (voice), ''Film/AustinPowersTheSpyWhoShaggedMe'', and ''WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill'' (voice).
* BadassBeard: Since ''Shotgun Willie'', he's had one. His prior albums look quite strange with him clean shaven.
** It's a major plot point for the underrated Western ''Barbarosa'' where he plays the eponymous cowboy hero.
* ConceptAlbum: ''The Red-Headed Stranger'', chronicling the life of a man from Blue Rock, Montana.
** Before that, ''Yesterday's Wine'' (about a man's life from birth to death) and ''Phases and Stages'' (about the breakup of a marriage).
* CoolOldGuy: In addition to being one of the legends of CountryMusic and American music in general, being known for his friendly and funny manner, and being TheStoner, [[BadassGrandpa he's also a practitioner]] of Kung Fu, and Tae Kwon Do, which he's held a black belt in since TheEighties.
* [[RockstarSong Countrystar Song]]: "On the Road Again", natch.
* TheCoverChangesTheMeaning: The majority of the songs on ''Red Headed Stranger'' are older songs that are used to illustrate the album's story arc.
* DefeatingTheUndefeatable: Is the only person known to have out-smoked SnoopDogg.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: His earliest material is fairly straight classic country (though his sophisticated lyrics were considered cutting edge). When he recorded with RCA Records in the late 60s he had the same problem as his labelmate Music/WaylonJennings: his style was too eclectic to fit into the usual Nashville formulas, leading to experiments with crooning ballads ("She's Not For You"), pop ("I'm a Memory") and even gospel ("Laying My Burdens Down"). He also sang with a clipped, over-enunciated style that stands in contrast to his later signature jazzy phrasing.
** He looked [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWloaxXWv0g completely different, too]]. Yes, this suit-clad, impeccably groomed, clean-shaven guy is Willie.
* EmptyChairMemorial: Riderless horse variant; namely, the bay pony that accompanies the Red-Headed Stranger in the eponymous song was his deceased wife's horse. He shoots and kills a woman who tries to steal it, and went free, because "you can't hang a man for killing a woman who's trying to steal his horse."
* ListingCities: "Texas in My Soul"
* NewSoundAlbum: He'd already been moving in that direction for years, but ''Shotgun Willie'' marked the point where he finally broke away from the Nashville establishment and started playing his own unique brand of music.
* SignatureStyle: A reedy voice singing just off of the beat, and jazz-flavored guitar lines played on a nylon-string acoustic(instead of a steel-string like virtually all other popular music).
* TheStoner: He's the co-chair for National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The occasional arrest for possession is another clue.
** According to legend, he once smoked a joint on the roof of the White House. In a recent ''Rolling Stone'' interview, he claimed(while winking at the interviewer) that he couldn't remember doing this.
** And according to another legend, he once barged in out of nowhere on a ''Rolling Stone'' reporter interviewing BobDylan bearing a blunt as long as his forearm. The article was never written (according to the legend, anyway).
** Brought up in ''[[Series/TheColbertReport A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!]]'':
-->'''Willie''': Stephen, right now, I'm so high, ''you're'' hallucinating.
** TobyKeith penned a song titled "I'll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again". And sings it in Willie's SignatureStyle.
* SuperGroup: The Highwaymen with Kris Kristofferson, WaylonJennings, and Music/JohnnyCash.