Willie Nelson's First-Ever Live Performance Was A Disaster - Here's Why

During Willie Nelson's legendary career, he has performed with a variety of musical groups. As a kid, he performed with a polka band. Then, he played with Bud Fletcher and the Texans as a teenager. As he got older, Nelson also spent time as a radio DJ and songwriter, before releasing his own album in 1962. His real success came when he moved back to Texas after a stint in Nashville, when he began playing music with a band called the Family.

His career took off and, despite legal troubles during Nelson's career, he has been a major success and continues making music today. He released an album called "I Don't Know A Thing About Love" in March 2023, which became the 150th album Nelson has released. However, even big country stars like Nelson have performances that do not go as well as they would like sometimes.

In an interview with the podcast "Sunday Sitdown with Willie Geist," Nelson recounted his first-ever performance in front of a crowd at around five years old — about five years before his tenure with the polka band.

Nelson's first performance was a poetry reading

In the "Sunday Sitdown" interview, Willie Geist asked Willie Nelson to recount the first song he wrote or the first time he performed in front of a crowd. Nelson reminisced about the first time he recited a poem at around five or six years old. He shared the experience with Geist, saying, "[T]hey introduced me to do something, and my poem was, 'What are you looking at me for? I ain't got nothing to say. If you don't like the looks of me, just look the other way.'" The poem made Geist laugh and ask, "You're five years old with that attitude, Willie?"

Nelson also added that his costume for the performance was a white sailor suit with red accents. Nerves at speaking in front of the crowd caused Nelson to pick his nose, which then started to bleed onto his white outfit — causing quite the memorable performance for both Nelson and the audience.

Nelson's accolades include a myriad of Grammy wins

Willie Nelson has come a long way since that initial performance. Over the course of his musical career, he has (so far) racked up 56 Grammy nominations and 12 wins. His first Grammy win was for "Best Country Vocal Performance, Male" at the 18th Annual Grammys, for his performance of the song "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain."

Nelson has also spent a large portion of his career playing music with his family members. He had a strong relationship with his sister Bobbie Nelson, and she played piano for him and his band from 1973 to the time of her death in 2022. Prior to that, in September 2021, it was announced that Nelson was releasing "The Willie Nelson Family" album, which included his sister and his children — Lukas, Micah, Amy, and Paula — as part of the band. One of the first songs Nelson ever wrote, "Family Bible," is recorded on "The Willie Nelson Family" after it was initially sold to and sung by Claude Gray, and then recorded by Nelson for his 1971 album.