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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 06:  Trevor Nelson, Paula Nelson, Jacob Micah Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Amy Nelson, Willie Nelson, Annie D'Angelo, Raelyn Nelson, Rachel Fowler, Dean Hubbard, Martha Fowler, and Lana Nelson attend Hard Rock International's Wille Nelson Artist Spotlight Benefit Concert at Hard Rock Cafe, Times Square on June 6, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Pont/Getty Images)© Mike Pont

Meet Willie Nelson's eight children — including his country singing kids Paula, Micah, Amy and Lukas

Willie Nelson has an incredibly talented family

Bryony Gooch
US Writer
Updated: May 31, 2024
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As he enters his 90s, it's clear that Willie Nelson has lived a long and full life.

He is an icon in country music who is still performing to this day, remembered for his once-red braids that have now turned white with age. But he's also a family man, who has had eight children and been divorced four times.

Willie Nelson performs with his sons Micah and Lukas

Some of his kids have even followed him into country music, and in 2012 Willie told Texas Monthly that "playing onstage with my kids is the biggest thrill I can get."

Willie has confessed that he's sure many people would think he was "not a very good" dad, because he spent much of his time gone when his kids were growing up. He said he hoped that "As they live longer and have families, they'll realize what it all means and what it's all about,"

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA - MAY 15: Willie Nelson performs in concert at Pinewood Performing Arts on May 15, 2024 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images for Shock Inc)© Gary Miller
Willie Nelson in 2024

His wife of over 30 years, Annie, countered this by saying: "This is a good example of what it means to come here and do what you came here for. When he was home, he was home."

Here is everything you need to know about Willie Nelson's eight children

Renee Butts

Willie Nelson with his late daughter Renee© Facebook// Renee Butts
Willie Nelson with his late daughter Renee

Born January 22, 1953 to Willie's friend Mary Haney, Renee Butts is the country singer's oldest child. Willie found out that Renee was his daughter in 2012, which he spoke about in his memoir, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road.

"I have an old, dear friend, Mary Haney, who I'd lost touch with but recently met again after decades," he wrote. "Turns out Mary and I had a child together called Renee. It also turns out Renee has a daughter, Noelle, who has a daughter, [­Jordyn], who I am happy to now call my great-granddaughter."

Renee was a graphic designer who resided near Houston with her husband Joel Butts. It seems she maintained a close relationship with her father, as in 2016 she shared a photo of herself with Willie on Facebook, writing: "This is also my dad and I love him so much," adding: "Happy Fathers Day dad. I know I'm a really lucky girl to have two of the finest men in this world be dads to me."

She died in August 2017, with comments and posts from friends and family confirming she'd had cancer.

Lana Nelson Fowler

SPICEWOOD, TEXAS - JULY 06: Lana Nelson (L) and Sonny Carl Davis attend a Q&A following the Luck Cinema screening of 'Red Headed Stranger' at Luck Ranch on July 06, 2019 in Spicewood, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Shock Ink)© Rick Kern
Lana Nelson on the left

Willie and his first wife Martha Matthews welcomed Lana on November 11, 1953. She has remained close to her father, working as a costume designer on his 1986 film Red Headed Stranger.

She is the mom of two - a daughter named Rachel, and a son named Bryan. 

While she tends to keep out of the spotlight, Lana shared a tribute to her father in 2015 on his website:  "My dear father is a sweet, mellow, loving man that makes me light up inside when I look into his eyes," she wrote. "He has been an inspiration and a role model, teaching me the most important lessons of my life."

Susie Nelson

Martha and Willie had Susie Nelson on May 23, 1956. Not much is known about Susie, although she reportedly earned her high school diploma aged 27, and spent a few years playing music and telling stories on Indigenous reservations across the U.S. and Canada.

She is close with her father, publishing Heart Worn Memories: A Daughter's Personal Biography of Willie Nelson about his life. She co-hosted Susie's Gospel Hour with her father on his SiriusXM channel in 2012.

William 'Billy' Hugh Nelson Jr.

Musician Willie Nelson attends 27th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards on April 29, 1992 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)© Ron Galella, Ltd.
Willie Nelson, months after his son died

The former couple then had Willie 'Billy' Hugh Jr on May 12, 1958. In 1989, Billy went through a difficult time as his mother passed away and he separated from his wife, who gained custody of their daughter. He was treated for alcohol abuse in 1990.

Willie and his son were working on a gospel-inspired album when Billy died by suicide on Christmas Day, 1991. Willie confessed to a friend that he had "never experienced anything so devastating in my life".

Finishing the album certainly wasn't easy for Willie, but he released their completed album in 1994 - Peace in the Valley: The Gospel Truth Collection. The album included the song "My Body's Just a Suitcase for My Soul", a duet with his late son.

Paula Carlene Nelson

SPICEWOOD, TEXAS - APRIL 13: Paula Nelson discusses Willie's Nelson's new album 'Ride Me Back Home' during a taping for SiriusXM's Willie's Roadhouse at Luck Ranch on April 13, 2019 in Spicewood, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for SiriusXM)© Rick Kern
Paula Nelson in 2019

Willie had Paula Carlene Nelson with Connie Koepke on October 27, 1969 - but her birth was tricky for the country star. At the time, he was married to singer Shirley Collie - who found out about the birth of Paula when she found Connie's hospital bill in 1971. The couple divorced not long after, and Willie married Connie that same year.

Connie and Willie divorced in 1988, and Paula moved with her mom from Colorado to Austin, Texas where she went to Westlake High School. "It was tough going to Westlake. I was 16 and had been living in Colorado since grade school where it didn't matter, but to be Willie Nelson's daughter in Texas was huge," she told the Austin Chronicle in 2008. "[By 12th grade], I was doing a lot of coke, anything I could get my hands on, really."

She entered a treatment center for her addictions in San Diego, and became the first Nelson to receive a high school diploma.

Like her father, Paula has found a career in country music and released five albums.

Amy Lee Nelson

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 10:  Cathy Guthrie (L) and Amy Nelson of Folk Uke perform in concert during day two of the second weekend of Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on October 10, 2021 in Austin, Texas  (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)© Gary Miller
Amy Nelson (R) performing with Cathy Guthrie

Four years after Paula, Willie and Connie had Amy, July 6, 1973. 

She dipped her toe in film-making, directing the documentary Lovey: King of the Roadies, and appearing alongside her dad in the 2012 documentary Saving America's Horses: A Nation Betrayed. However, she has also followed the family's musical route, as one-half of the bald Folk Uke alongside Arlo Guthrie's daughter Cathy Guthrie - another country music dynasty.

An animal lover, Amy helps run the family's nonprofit, Willie's Kids which saves horses from slaughter.

"He's always taught us that animals are people and horses are smarter than people," Amy said of her father. "He raised us to respect animals."

Lukas Autry Nelson

EAST TROY, WI - SEPTEMBER 21: Willie Nelson (L) and Lukas Nelson perform in concert during Farm Aid 34 at Alpine Valley Music Theatre on September 21, 2019 in East Troy, Wisconsin. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images for Shock Ink)© Gary Miller
Lukas performing with his father Willie

Before marrying Annie D'Angelo, the couple had their first child, Lukas Autry Nelson on December 25, 1988. He grew up between Texas and Hawaii, and took a keen interest in music at an early age.

Lukas won a Grammy for his work on A Star Is Born in 2020, after he co-produced songs in the film and worked as a vocal coach for Bradley Cooper. While working on set, Lukas grew close to Lady Gaga and the duo have since written a number of songs together.

The same night Lukas won his Grammy, his father won his 10th. He decided to tweet about the moment: "Already so humbled to have won a Grammy tonight, but it's a crazy world to be able to win the same night as my dad," Lukas said. "A rare honor shared only with a few other incredible fathers and sons. So grateful to be a part of his legacy and watch it continue to grow."

Jacob Micah Nelson

LUCK, TX - MARCH 13: Willie Nelson (L) and Micah Nelson perform in concert during The Luck Banquet on March 13, 2019 in Luck, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)© Gary Miller
Willie performing with his son Micah

Annie and Willie later had Jacob Micah Nelson, who goes by his middle name, on May 24, 1990. Like his family, Micah is also a musician - and in 2012, he started releasing music under the name Particle Kid - a name which came from his dad's slip-up as he intended to call Micah his "prodigal son".

"It was this incredibly wild stoner moment. The name stuck for some reason … The combination of his Texas accent and how stoned he was made it unforgettable. I'm proud to be the Particle Kid," Micah revealed to the Spokesman-Review in 2022.

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