Who Are Willie Nelson's Kids?

Willie Nelson is nothing short of an American legend. The prolific musician has a career spanning more than seven decades, over which he has produced more than 140 albums. One of the biggest names in country music's history, Nelson and his innovative skills were too vast to fit into the conservative Nashville sound that was predominant in the 1950s and 1960s, as Texas Monthly put it in 2020. The native Texan's productive nature has also extended to his personal life.

Nelson has been married four times and fathered many children. Until recently, that number was firmly set on seven, though he found out later in life that he actually has eight, per the Express. While Nelson was a "lousy provider" who spent most of his money in "hotel suites and booze," he always believed in the family institution, according to a 1991 Texas Monthly profile. "In that sense, Willie Nelson was a family man through and through," author Robert Draper wrote.

Despite his tumultuous early days, Nelson has a strong relationship with his children and other family members. Throughout the tougher days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the country icon counted on the love and support of his family as they weathered the crisis together on his ranch in Spicewood, Texas. "We're doing okay," Nelson told People. "We're a very close family." Nelson's children are all adults now with varying sets of skills. Keep reading to learn more about Nelson's children.

Willie Nelson had three kids with his first wife, Martha Matthews

With his first wife, Martha Matthews, to whom he was married between 1952 and 1962, Willie Nelson welcomed three children: Lana, Susie, and Willie Nelson Jr., who went by Billy. According to People, his first son and namesake was tragically found dead in his home on Christmas morning in 1991 in what was ruled a suicide at the time. He was 33. "I've never experienced anything so devastating in my life," Willie told a friend at the time, per People.

Lana Nelson has made a name for herself in the entertainment industry as an actor and costume designer, according to her IMDb page. She was the designer for the 1986 film "Red Headed Stranger," based on Willie's album by the same name and starring the musician as the lead character, according to Texas Monthly. Her son, Brian Fowler, acted alongside his grandfather as the son of the character's love interest, per the magazine. "Everyone pitched in. If it meant 20 hours of work a day in 110 degrees, they were going to do it — all for Dad," Lana said. Lana is often featured on Willie's social media accounts, showing they remain close to this day.

Susie Nelson penned a book about her relationship with her father, "Heart Worn Memories: A daughter's personal biography of Willie Nelson," which was originally released in 1987. "He has an enormous capacity for being loyal and, as a consequence, people are loyal to him," she wrote.

Paula Nelson has followed in her father's footsteps

Paula Carlene Nelson has built a successful career in country music of her own — though that wasn't what she wanted to do as a teenager. She loved music, but she was put off by her schoolmates' interest in her famous dad, she told the Beaumont Enterprise. "Kids are asking me if I was rich and if they could meet my dad, and I was traumatized... So I really tried to stay as far away from it as I could for a long time," she said. 

After graduating, Paula began to explore her natural talents by going to karaoke bars. "Eventually I just really kind of started trying to sing and do it on my own without people knowing anything about my background," Paula told the Texas newspaper. She went on to produce five albums and has collaborated with her father on several occasions.

Paula was born on October 27, 1969, a date that also marked the beginning of the end of Willie Nelson's marriage to his second wife, rockabilly singer Shirley Collie. That's because Paula was born to Connie Koepke, with whom Willie was having an affair, per People. Collie found a maternity bill from a Houston hospital and discovered the affair. "Couldn't lie. Was caught flatfooted. Had to get the words out of my mouth. 'Connie's my girlfriend and Paula's our daughter," he said. Willie and Collie later married and welcomed another daughter, Amy Nelson, who is also a musician.

Willie Nelson's sons from his fourth marriage are also musicians

While married to Connie Koepke, Willie Nelson met makeup artist Annie Marie D'Angelo on the set of the 1986 film "Stagecoach" in which he starred alongside Johnny Cash, according to People. He fell in love with D'Angelo during that time and divorced Koepke in 1988. He and D'Angelo wed in 1991 and are still together. The couple welcomed their oldest son, Lukas Autry Nelson, in 1988, and youngest, Jacob Micah Nelson, who goes by his middle name, in 1990, according to Country Fancast.

Both Lukas and Micah are artists and musicians like their father. Per Country Fancast, Lukas started writing songs at age 11 and by 13 he was playing guitar with Willie's band. In 2008, he formed the country-rock band Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, which serves as Neil Young's backing band, per the website. "We've learned from each other, and we've gotten so tight. I don't want to stop, and I don't think Neil does either. There's transcendental experiences on stage with Neil," Lukas told Rolling Stone in 2016. 

Micah has played guitar in his big brother's band, though he also has his own projects, including the band Insects vs Robots, according to Rolling Stone. Lukas and Micah have collaborated with their father throughout their careers. A noteworthy collab happened in 2012 with the release of "Heroes," which featured guest appearances by both and included some original songs by Lukas, according to All Music

In 2012, Willie Nelson revealed he had an eighth child

In 2012, Willie Nelson released his autobiography, "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," which included many details of his personal life. Among some of the most eye-popping was the revelation that he had recently discovered he had fathered a daughter back in his youth, according to the Express. Nelson noted an old friend of his, Mary Haney, with whom he had lost touch, had reconnected after decades and told him she had given birth to a girl named Renee, per the report. In addition to finding out he had eight children and not seven, Nelson also discovered he was a great-grandfather. "Renee has a daughter, Noelle, who has a daughter, ­Jordan, who I am happy to now call my great-granddaughter," he wrote.

Nelson was delighted to learn about his new relatives. He also said that his wife, Annie D'Angelo, was also thrilled and welcomed them into the family, according to the Express. "Mary was a sweet lady. In fact, she still is. I'm glad we had a family together and so is my wife. Our only regret is that we didn't find out about all these female relatives for so long. I consider them as much a part of ­Willie Nelson and Family as I do my other children," Nelson said, adding that his daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter have met their newly discovered family members. "We're even talking about spending our first ­Christmas all together. Ain't that something?"