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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 03: Willie Nelson performs onstage during 38th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center on November 03, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage)© Mike Coppola

Willie Nelson's health issues over the years as the 91-year-old is cleared to go back on tour

Country megastar Willie Nelson has had a number of health issues over the years

Bryony Gooch
US Writer
July 6, 2024
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At 91 years old, Willie Nelson continues to tour and perform across the country. But a recent health scare saw fans concerned for him as he pulled out of his performance at Outlaw Music Festival "per doctor's orders".

A statement on X read: "We regret to inform you that Willie Nelson is not feeling well and, per doctor's orders, has been advised to rest for the next four days."

"He is expected to make a quick recovery and join the Outlaw Music Festival tour next week. In the meantime, Lukas Nelson and the Family Band, along with a few guests, will perform a special set to include Willie's classics and other songs."

It was revealed that the country star was going to be okay, with his rep telling "Willie will be fine. I live in Los Angeles and will fly next week to see the performances on the east coast. I can't wait."

But there have been times when Willie's health updates have taken a more serious turn.

Here, we take a look at his health issues over the years.

1981 - collapsed lung

Actor Willie Nelson attends The Friar's Club "Entertainer of the Year" Awards Honoring Burt Reynolds on May 16, 1981 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Betty Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)© Betty Galella
Willie Nelson in 1981

Willie suffered a collapsed lung while swimming in Hawaii in 1981, which led to him being taken to the Maui Memorial Hospital. His scheduled concerts were canceled as a result.

In response to the significant lung congestion, Willie temporarily stopped smoking cigarettes, resuming when the congestion ended. At this point, he was smoking between two and three packs per day. After suffering from several bouts of pneumonia, he made the choice to quit smoking tobacco, but continued to smoke cannabis.

2004 - carpal tunnel syndrome

30 January 2004: Willie Nelson during the press conference for the SUPER BOWL Pre-Game show for SUPER BOWL XXXVIII that was played at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)© Icon Sportswire
Willie Nelson in 2004

The country musician underwent surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome after he damaged his wrists by continuously playing the guitar. He had to cancel his scheduled concerts, and was only able to write songs during his recovery.

2012 - emphysema

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 20:  Singer Willie Nelson participates in the SiriusXM Town Hall with Willie Nelson and Johnny Knoxville on Willie's Roadhouse at SiriusXM Studios on November 20, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)© Cindy Ord
Willie Nelson in 2012

While due to perform a fundraiser near Denver, he had to cancel when he suffered from breathing problems due to high altitude and emphysema, and was taken to a local hospital as a result.

In 2015, he would undergo stem-cell therapy to improve the state of his lungs after repeated bouts of pneumonia and emphysema.

2022 - COVID-19

DOLLY PARTON'S MOUNTAIN MAGIC CHRISTMAS -- Pictured: Willie Nelson as himself -- (Photo by: Katherine Bomboy/NBC via Getty Images)© NBC
Willie Nelson in 2022

Willie postponed several shows in May 2022 after contracting COVID-19, which reportedly seriously affected him. He received treatments including Paxlovid, monoclonal antibodies, and steroids before continuing his tour in September 2022.

Willie Nelson's fitness practice

AUSTIN, TX - APRIL 28:  Musician Willie Nelson is presented with his 5th Degree Black Belt in the art of Gong Kwon Yu Sul by Grand Master Sam Um (R) at his studio Master Martial Arts on April 28, 2014 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)© Rick Kern
Willie is a keen practitioner of martial arts

The 91-year-old has a keen interest in martial arts dating back to his childhood. As a result, he has practiced kung fu, taekwondo, and GongKwon Yusul over the years. As a result, he holds a second-degree black belt in taekwondo, and a fifth-degree black belt in GongKwon Yusul.

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