Bobbie Nelson, Willie Nelson’s Sister and Longtime Bandmate, Dies at 91 - DMT NEWS

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Bobbie Nelson, Willie Nelson’s Sister and Longtime Bandmate, Dies at 91

Bobbie Nelson, the singer, pianist, and a regular collaborator with her younger brother Willie Nelson, has died at the age of 91.

Nelson was the first member of the Willie Nelson and Family Band, and devoted more than 50 years to touring and recording with her brother.

Music was in the family’s DNA. Raised in Abbot, Texas, it was Bobbie and Willie’s grandparents who inspired the youngsters to take up instruments and pursue a career in music.

“My grandfather had said to me when I was learning to play the piano: You know, if you really work at this, you could earn your living playing music one day,” Bobbie once said. “And I never forgot that.”

The siblings caught on quick. By their teens, they were cutting their teeth in honky-tonks, and they’d form a band with Bobbie’s husband Bud Fletcher, and their father Ira Nelson on guitar. When Fletcher died in a car accident, Bobbie was left to raise her three sons and consider a more-stable career.

After completing business college in Fort Worth, her set of skills across music and admin helped her score a job with Hammond Organ Company, for whom she would the music library and demonstrate its instruments. Later, as her children grew, she returned to the piano as a means of income, playing restaurants, lounges and supper clubs in Austin and Nashville.

Bobbie’s collaboration with Willie, Hill Country Christmas, peaked at No. 60 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart in 1997.
Her debut album, Audiobiography, a collection of a dozen of her favorite songs, was released in 2007 through Justice Records. Willie contributed vocal and guitar on two songs.

More recently, she was featured on the 2021 album The Willie Nelson Family (Legacy Recordings), a collection of country gospel-tinged songs performed by Willie’s Family Band.

The siblings also collaborated on two books: the memoir Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of The Family Band, published in 2020 by Random House, and the only children’s book they penned Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music, published in 2021, by Doubleday.

Nelson passed away Thursday morning (March 10), peacefully and surrounded by family, according to a rep.

“Her elegance, grace, beauty and talent made this world a better place,” reads a statement confirming her passing. “Our hearts are broken and she will be deeply missed. But we are so lucky to have had her in our lives. Please keep her family in your thoughts and give them the privacy they need at this time.”



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Lars Brandle, Khareem Sudlow