It’s hard to imagine anyone who’s lived more life than Willie Nelson.
The Texas outlaw icon has some wild tales to his name, from the story of how he earned his nickname “Shotgun Willie,” or the tale of his 9-hour sex marathon, and he’s also had some marital troubles that resulted in some crazy stories, too.
His his ex-wife Martha Matthews once tied him up with their kids’ jump ropes and beat him with a broom handle, and Willie’s usually the first to admit that he had a wandering eye back then and had a hard time staying faithful, or even just being a good and decent husband in general.
Actually, in his 2020 joint member with his late sister Bobbie Nelson, Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band, he detailed how his second wife, Shirley, found out he’d had an affair with another woman who had just given birth to a daughter with him in 1971:
“Shirley saw a bill from a Houston hospital. I tried to play it off as no big deal. I told her that I had to go to the hospital for something minor.”
And it sounds like no big deal, except for the fact that it came from the maternity ward…
“She wasn’t buying that for one simple reason… the bill said the charges were for the birth of a baby girl, Paula Carlene, born to a Mrs. Connie Nelson.”
Shirley literally caught him red-handed, and he owned up to it, saying:
“Connie’s my girlfriend and Paula’s our daughter.”
I mean, I’m sure Willie had another house he could’ve put on there as the address for the hospital mail, right?
It had to have been heartbreaking for Shirley to find out about not only the affair, but also her husband’s new daughter, that way.
Not shockingly, the pair ultimately filed for divorce that same year in 1971, and Willie married Connie a few months later. They later divorced in 1988, as well, because of Willie’s inability to stay loyal again:
“I messed up another marriage. My wandering ways were too much for any woman to put up with. I’ll always love Connie.
I’ll always love all my wives. I’ve always said that there’s no such thing as a ‘former’ wife. Once in your life, a wife never leaves.
I regret the pain I caused Connie… and Martha and Shirley before her… and have no excuses.”
In the end, it did work out for Willie when he married his current wife Annie in 1991. The pair has been together ever since, and have two musician children of their own together, Lukas and Micah.
Willie says marrying Annie is the best decision he ever made:
“Love is love. And in the mid-eighties I fell head over heels in love with Ann Marie D’Angelo, called Annie. Never had met a woman like her before.
Marrying Annie wasn’t complicated at all. It’s about the smartest thing I ever did. I can say that because, 34 years after we first met, we’re still together and going strong.”
And Lukas recently joked that the big difference between he and his father is that he doesn’t want to go through three divorces, joking that he would “rather just settle when I’m 50”:
“I think the difference between him and I is that I decided to stay away from marriage, at least in the beginning so that I can pick one and stick with it.
I don’t want to go through three divorces and then settle when I’m 50. I’d rather just settle when I’m 50, if that’s what it takes.”
And speaking of Willie and Lukas, they make some pretty sweet music together, including one of my (and apparently front man Eddie Vedder’s) favorite covers of all-time in their rendition of Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe.”