Top 10 Things We Love About Willie Nelson

Famous as a singing and songwriting country music superstar, Willie Nelson is also well known for his writing, poetry, acting and activism. A longtime marijuana smoker, Willie petitions for legalization at every chance he gets. In addition, he helped found Farm Aid to raise funds for American farmers, and created the company Bio-Willie to create bio-diesel made from vegetable oil. And that’s not even close to all the Redheaded Stranger has done to make himself beloved to millions. In honor of his birthday on April 30th, 1933, counts down the top 10 things we love about Willie Nelson.

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Top 10 Things We Love About Willie Nelson

He’s on the road again. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down the top 10 things we love about Willie Nelson.

#10 – He Lets His Hair Down

Nicknamed the Redheaded Stranger, Nelson is famous for his locks. He started clean-cut, but let loose in the ‘70s and grew it long – we’re talking real long. For the longest time, Willie’s signature ‘do was long grey braids; but finally in 2010 he chopped them off. It wasn’t as big as “the Rachel” or Michelle Obama getting bangs, but there were news stories about it.

#9 – He’s Not Afraid to Sing a Different Tune

Willie’s obviously a talented and prolific songwriter with his fair share of hits: He penned country standards like “Hello Walls” and “Crazy,” which were both made famous by other artists. But Willie is no stranger to covers himself: his first number one was a reboot of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” Recently, he’s tackled more current, unexpected music at the suggestion of his sons. Like Pearl Jam.

#8 – He’s No Sell-Out

Like we said, Willie is not afraid to make other people’s songs his own. Featured in a moving ad promoting sustainable farming for Chipotle Mexican Grill, his version of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” got rave reviews when it aired during Super Bowl XLVI and the 2012 Grammy Awards. Ironically, his version of the song, featuring his stirring vocals, made a way bigger splash than Coldplay’s own Grammy performance.

#7 – He’s Always Got His Finger on the Trigger

And by Trigger, we mean his beat-up guitar. In the early-‘90s, the IRS came after Nelson for over $30 million in back-taxes. To raise funds, Willie released The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? and auctioned his assets to friends, while the government seized his belongings. The one thing Willie hid? Trigger. He said the day he loses that guitar; he’ll retire.

#6 – He’s Mad for Reefer

One of the most well-known things about Willie Nelson is his marijuana intake. The amount of pot Willie smokes has reached almost mythological proportions, as he shows up high to interviews, concerts and pretty much anywhere. Because of his love of all things pot-related, he’s a vocal advocate for legalization through the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML and his TeaPot Party.

#5 – He Smokes Green at the White House

Willie and Jimmy Carter are buddies, so the Peanut Farmer invited the Redheaded Stranger to perform at the White House in 1980. Carter and his wife even joined him at the mic, but that’s not the funny part: Willie says he sparked a “big fat Austin torpedo” on the roof of the executive mansion. For those who don’t speak southern drug slang: that’s pot. At the White House.

#4 – He Knows It’s Not Easy Being Green

Willie’s weed habits can get him into trouble: He’s been arrested for possession many times, but usually gets off with a small fine and probation. However, in 2010, after he was nabbed for pot on his tour bus, the prosecutor said if he paid the $2,500 fine and sang in court, he wouldn’t go to jail. He didn’t end up singing, but it proves everybody loves Willie.

#3 – He’s Got Friends in High Places

Everybody also wants to work with Willie. He’s duetted with Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Toby Keith, Phish and Julio Iglesias. However, his song with Snoop Dogg is the most unexpected. Except, is it unexpected? Willie and Snoop have a habit in common, have been arrested for pot at the same checkpoint, and have hung out together in Amsterdam – because where else would they hang out? So maybe it’s the most natural pairing of them all.

#2 – He’ll Cause a Stir

Nelson has many causes near and dear to his heart. Besides endorsing legalized marijuana, he founded the benefit concert Farm Aid in 1985, with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, to fundraise for U.S. farmers. In 2005, he started a company that makes bio-diesel out of vegetable oils called Willie Nelson Biodiesel, better known as “BioWillie,” in the hopes of ending American dependency on foreign oil.

#1 – He Acts Out

We love to see our favorite outlaw country star acting, and he’s done his fair share of movie and TV cameos. From his roles in “The Electric Horseman,” “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Barbarosa,” to his popular appearances in “Half Baked,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “The Simpsons” and “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman,” Willie gets around. But, no matter what they call him on-screen, he’s still Willie Nelson.

Do you agree with our list? Why do you love Willie Nelson? For more top 10s about your favorite musicians, be sure to subscribe to

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