Willie Nelson folklore is different from most tall tales involving country music outlaws, because all the stories are supported by the singer’s own commentary.
Take the time he allegedly ran back into a burning house to save his marijuana. That’s crazy, right?
“By the time I got there, it was burning real good,” Nelson told People in 1980, confirming the story. “But I had this pound of Colombian grass inside. I wasn’t being brave running in there to get my dope — I was trying to keep the firemen from finding it and turning me over to the police.”
Or the rumor that Nelson, at age 81, became a fifth-degree black belt. That’s supported by Nelson, and by a picture of him receiving the honor. The stories told in this Willie Nelson trivia video are safe for a Snopes investigation, including the one about how he got his nickname (and title of his 1973 album) “Shotgun Willie.”
Texas Hill Country outlines the full Shotgun Willie gunfight, citing a since-removed post at the singer’s official website for confirmation. It involves his daughter Lana, her husband and alleged abuse, plus a threat and two gunfights. The best part is that when police arrived, Nelson calmly claimed that the husband had just run over a bullet, denying that he’d hid in a truck and waited to ambush him.
Per the website and other publications that use the same quotes, Nelson paid the couple a visit and told the husband that if he ever laid a hand on his daughter again, he’d pay for it. Then he returned home, but saw the husband driving by. Gunfire ensued, but no one was harmed.
Later, the husband, Steve, returned, but Nelson was ready.
“Thinking Steve would come to [his home] Ridgetop to pick me off about dusk,” Nelson says, “I hid in the truck so he couldn’t tell if I was home.” When Steve showed up, Nelson came out of the garage and shot out Steve’s truck tire, and that was the end of it. The album would be a pivotal project for him and lead to a career resurgence that would make him a Country Music Hall of Famer.
See Pictures of Willie Nelson Through the Years: